Skip to main content

Full text of "Joe Smith & His Waxworks"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 



at |http : //books . google . com/ 




Dig zedbyVjOOQlC 



(?) 



^O'- ^ 



1/ - " 



Digitized by 



Goosle n 



'i^2§^f^ 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOS SMITH '^ 

HIS W^XWO%KS 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 




Digitized by VjOOQiC 




Digitized by VjOOQiC 



Tit'U 



Vjc. 



"YOS SMITH 

^ HIS IVAXJVOTiKS 

Written by Bill Smithy with the 

help of [Mrs. Smith and Oiir. 

Saunders ( W. F. S.) ; with 

T^ictures by 3\/Ir. T^itcher 




London : !J{jville "Beeman Limited 

6 "Bell Buildings, €.C. 

1896 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 






A^r 






Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CONTENTS 






TA' 



CHAP. 

I. THE PREFACE. 

II. JOE smith's star 1 

III. THE OLD SHOW AND THE NEW 

IV. MAKING UP THE NEW SHOW 

V. DUCK 

VI. MRS. SMITH . 

VII. BILL SMITH 

VIII. THE WAXWORK SHOW 

IX. MANAGEMENT 

X. A SEPARATION 

XI. LOW FAIR-LIFE 

XII. UPPER-CLASS FAIR-FOLK 

XIII. THE DRAMATIC SHOW . 
vi 



I 

i8 
36 
43 
57 
65 
88 
102 
121 

137 
149 

173 
187 






Digitized by VjOOQiC 



Vlll 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 


PA<;k 


XIV. ONWARDS 


. 208 


XV. HOME . . • . 


. 227 


XVI. CISSIE 


. 243 


XVII. WORN OUT 


. . . 263 


XVIII. THE LAST CHAPTER 


. . . 276 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 



CHAPTER I 




change. 
Smith, 



THE PREFACE 

SUPPOSE you wants to 
know how I come to write 
this 'ere book, with the help 
of my old woman and Mr. 
Saunders? Well, it hap- 
pened ^n this way — my pals 
at the Blue Lion tap of an 
evening, when they were 
tired out with the quarrels 
between Mr. Spillman and 
Mr. Sowerby over politics, 
used to ask me to tell them 
something about my Uncle 
Joe's waxworks, just for a 
Everybody knew my Uncle Joe 
as I used to help him in the show 
I 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

in fair -times my pals, therefore, were sure that 
I knew something about the wax-line. Well, 
one night after I had been telling a little tale 
about what happened at the fair at Shepton, 
Mr. Parker, who keeps the Blue Lion, or, as the 
people say, who the Blue Lion keeps — and every- 
body knows he is a good fellow — says he to me, 
" Smith, we have got a cricket club anniversity 
on to-morrow in the parlour, and I have been 
requested to ask you if you would come at about 
eight o'clock to tell the cricketers one of your 
tales about your uncle's waxworks." " Lor, sir," 
says I, " there is nothing in perticular about them 
there waxworks, and everybody knows about my 
Uncle Joe." But he would insist, like, and he 
kept worrying at it till I promised I would go. 

It is all very well for the gentry folks (and I 
heard Mr. Saunders was to be in the chair) to 
ask the likes of me 'into the parlour. I knew if 
I went, I should only be chaffed by my pals, and 
made uncomfortable - like in the village after, 
for going and trying to make myself so grand 
with the gentry folks. But as Mr. Parker had 
made me promise, I supposed I was obliged to 
go just for this time. 

You should have seen how I came off when I 
told the old woman. She says, "Bill, you are 
making a hass of yourseF. They only wants you 
to laugh at. It's no good you trying to fill a 

2 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE PREFACE 

peck measure when a quart would hold you." I 
could see this clearly now she told me, and 
knew that the old woman was right. 

I then goes back to Mr. Parker, and tells him 
what the old woman says. " But you must come 
now," says he. " I have promised that you 
should. I took your word. I will make it all 
right with the old woman." 

Sure enough he did make it right, for down 
he comes to the cottage next morning when I 
was at work, and talks to her, and makes her 
laugh. (I wish I could, sometimes; it would 
make life easier.) Then he makes her promise 
I shall go, and gives her half a crown for nothing 
at all. 

When I comes home from the job I was doing, 
she says to me, " Bill, I have made it all right 
with Mr. Parker, and you are to go to-night at 
eight o'clock to the Blue Lion parlour to keep 
your promise." 

I know, howsoever, the missus did not feel so 
right as she said, for I could see clearly she was 
not at all happy about my going. 

She says, " You can't go before gents at an anni- 
versity in a smock-frock." 

I says, " Why can't I ? It is nearly new, and I 
always wears a smock-frock. Nobody would know 
me if I didn't." 

My old woman is very clever-like, you know, 
3 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

and she knows it herself. If I only spends a 
penny on an extra half pint she finds it out, 
and says, " You take the bread out of the suckling 
babies' mouths." This is not true ; we have not 
twins. But I may say she is clever in lots 
of other things when she is not a -blowing 
me up. 

" I will borrow a black coat," she says, " and 
give the loan of it out in washing." 

" You can't do it," I says. To this she replied — 

" I can, because I knows Mrs. Spillman, whose 
husband is a on-and-off undertaker's man, when 
there is a black job on, but otherwise a house 
painter, artist, and reporter for The County 
Advertiser. She will lend me the old man's 
coat, which will just do for you, and he will not 
mind." 

I was not pleased with the offer she made, and 
did not like to wear clothes that even looked like 
gent's togs, although I knew Spillman very well, 
and that they were second-hand when he first 
had them. Howsoever, I put up with it, because 
she says — 

" It is all right, and if you don't go respectable- 
like you will offend Mr. Saunders." 

*' Still," I says, "I don't like to be set up in 
gent's sort of togs even if they are old 'uns, and 
I don't mean to try it on no more, if I gets off 
this time." 

4 



I 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE PREFACE 

Well, after it was all settled, I goes to the 
Blue Lion just before eight, and hears' from the 
passage just outside the parlour door Mr. 
Saunders, who is in the chair, making a grand 
speech all about their own remarkable dub and 
their clever selves. So I makes up my mind 
I won't go into the parlour, as I can't talk in 
.his style at all. Mr. Parker comes out to me, 
and says — , 

"You do look smart, Smith. I will take you 
into the parlour and introduce you. You will 
find the company jolly good fellows, full of fun." 

**^I; do not know if I likes so much fun!" 
When I gets in they all busts out a-laughing. 
I know it was at me. They thumps the table 
and roars out, making more row than I have 
ever heard twenty half-drunk chaps at election 
time, so I says, " I suppose I come too soon, 
gents?" 

Then they starts off laughing again. Mr 
Turnham says (he is very hard with his men, 
Mr. Turnham is), "Does any gentleman feel 
ready for the undertaker?" I suppose they 
heard of my borrowing the coat. 

They say, "We feel pretty well at present, 
thank ye." 

Then they starts off laughing again. I try 
to get to the door to get out, but Mr. Parker 
stops me, and says, " It is all right. . They 

5 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

are very merry fellows these cricketers, and mean 
no harm." 

Then they say to me, " How about the wax- 
works ? " 

I knew they was chaffing me, and could see 
they had me in to laugh at, and I didn't like it, 
and said so. 

Mr. Parker then says, " If you will keep quiet, 
gents, Mister Smith will tell you all about the 
waxworks." 

He never called me mister before, and I didn't 
like that neither, just at the present time. So I 
told them they had made me confused-like, and 
I could not tell them what I knew about the 
waxworks at all now. 

Then Mr. Parker gives me a chair, and tells 
me to sit down, and puts a pint before me, 
of which, feeling dry just then, I takes a sup, 
and half empties the pot. 

He tells me to keep still, and he will tell them 
something about my uncle's waxworks hisself; 

that if he goes wrong I must correct him. B 

Bless your body! (this was not exactly the 
expression), he goes wrong directly. I even 
thought I caught him winking, but am not sure. 
At anyrate he sets the company a-laughing at 
very serious family matters, which hurts my 
feelings, and makes me savage. So I gets up 
and says — 

6 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE PREFACE 

"I can't a-bear to, hear my tales going wrong. 
I would rather tell them myself, true as they 
should be." 

Well, after this these jolly cricketers were much 
more quiet. They made me drink too much beer 
and hot gin and water, which I was not used to, 
so that I do not know what I told them, or how 
it finished, except that I got home afterwards 
somehow, and had a bad headache next morning, 
and that the old woman was very cross, because 
I got a lot of mud upon the black coat she 
borrowed, through rolling down as I went home. 
For which she said, " You will have to pay some- 
thing handsome, which will take the bread out 
of the suckling babies' mouths." 

She calmed down, howsoever, very considerably 
when she found, while brushing up the coat, three- 
and-ninepence in the breast pocket, which she 
kept to herself. This no doubt the company 
put into my pockets when I was too tipsy to 
take it. 

When my old woman had brushed the coat 
she took it home. There was a little scrimmage 
with Mrs. Spillman about the soils upon it. The 
dispute, howsoever, ended in a friendly manner 
by my old woman paying one shilling for the 
loan and wear of the coat and buying a bottle 
of black reviver (the fluid used by undertakers 
and waiters to restore rusty black). My old 

7 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

woman further stood a glass of gin, which 
entirely restored the original friendship between 
them. 

After this I made a promise to my old woman, 
without her asking me, "I would never do it 
again. That if gents wanted black coats at 
their anniversities or parties, as far as I was 
concerned, they might wear them their selves." 

Now I have said what I have, I don't want to 
say anything against a black coat ; it wouldn't 
be polite. It is all very well for Spillman; it 
is in his business to wear one. Beside which, 
he is almost a gent hisself. He writes the 
Backinton article for our County Advertiser^ 
which they call the County Rag in the parlour. 
He can paint figgers on the flies for a show van, 
so he is an artist ; and he is a fine spouter. I likes 
his sentiments, as he calls them, and to hear 
him argue politics with that old blue Tory 
Sowerby is fine ! He could go into the parlour 
if he liked, but he says they are all dull old 
Tories there, who take a delight in burning the 
Advertiser right in his face: I mean to mention 
at times some of his sentiments as I go on. 

About a week after the time I was in the Blue 
Lion parlour, when I had made up my mind I 
would not talk any more about the old 'un's 
waxworks for a long time — Mr. Saunders meets 
me as I was going to the Blue Lion for a half 

8 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE PREFACE 

pint. "Smith," he ,says, "you told a capital* tale 
to our club last Wednesday;'' 

I says, " Sir, I know you are a-chaffing of 
me. 

" Really I am not," he says. 

He walks by my side, and says again, after a 
few' minutes, "You should write a book about 
ybur Uncle Joe's waxworks." 

I says, "That's impossible; they are past and 
gone many years ago." 

"I don't want particulars of the waxworks 
.themselves," he says, "but only a general 
description and the tales of your uncle." 

" How can I write a book ? " I says ; " I don't 
know how to. Although my uncle did pay two 
winters' schooling for me, and my aunt taught 
me a little herself. Still I do not know how to 
spell proper, except the old woman helps me, 
jior to put the words in the way they does in 
books. Besides which, who would . care about 
the old 'un (that is my .Uncle Joe) except the 
people about here, who knew him, but did not 
respect him much. Poor old fellow, he was very 
clever, but a regular old blusterer. If they had one 
book among them they could lend it to each other, 
and never no more would be wanted. So that it 
would be of no use printing a hundred or more 
boqks at a time, if no one would pay a shilling for 
one — except,' perhaps, Mrs. Pratington, who goes 

9 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

gossiping about everywhere, and is a great 
nuisance when she is making inquiries into my 
family affairs." 

Mr. Saunders says, "You need not write the 
book, but only put it down, like. The printer' 
will do all the spellin', and put the words in 
order, so that it will be just the same as if a 
gent wrote it. What I want you to do is to 
write what you think of on one side of the paper 
only [* awful waste,* I says]; and that you may 
not lose your time, I will give you ninepence for 
every page of foolscap paper, as you writes it. 
When it is printed, I will give you much more 
if it sells." 

"Not very likely," I says, but it was certainly 
very handsome of Mr. Saunders, who is a sharp 
business man, and everybody takes his word. 

I will try what I can do next summer evenings ; 
for if I gets a few ninepences it will not be bad. 
I know Mr. Saunders can very well afford to pay 
for it if it amuses him. My old woman says she 
is sure she can help me. 

Now it is all very well for a gent to say to 
you, as I said before, " You should write a book," 
to one who knows nothing about it. Before I 
begins I sends the old woman to look at every 
tale-book my neighbours have. This I find in 
our village is five, leaving out the gentry, of 
course, who have many more. These five was 

lo 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE PREFACE 

mostwise piety books. I like this sort of thing 
very well myself for a showman, who always 
had to work hard every Sunday to get things 
packed for the next fair, but piety books would 
not agree with anything about my Uncle Joe, 
who was swearing all day long, and never went 
to church except when he was married. So how 




could I begin like any of these goody books? 
My old woman then looked over a lot of plays 
that belonged to her father, as he was on the 
stage, but none of these beginnings would do. 
Then she went round and asked Mrs. Spillman, 
who asked her old man, who spouts so well at 
the pubs, as I said before, but he didn't see how 
to begin. He said he knew nothing about it. 

II 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

3o' after I had made seven blots on the first 
sheet of paper, which I wiped off with my sleeve, 
and stopped up till I fell asleep thinking about 
the book three nights running, I had not got a 
jingle word writ down. So I says, when I went 
to bed, to the old woman, "I will chuck this 
job up, and send the paper, ink and pens back 
to-morrow morning to Mr. Saunders to write it 
hisself, for I can't." 

Next evening round comes Mr. Saunders, and 
laughs at me. He is always laughing at me, but 
in a good-natured sort of way, like, you know. 
He says — 

" Books do not want any beginning in particular 
nowadays. You can write just as you tell the 
tales to your pals." 

"That's very well," says I, "but I could tell 
more tales about the old 'un in an hour than 
I could write down in twenty year. Beside 
which, I could not tell which to put first for a 
book." 

He replies, " You must first write a description 
of your uncle, and the people who were about 
him, a,nd about the places, the landscape, like, 
where the tales occur." 

I saySj, " I can't do it ! The old 'un was just 
like other men, and what can I say about that? 
He was most like Staker, the butcher of Rutley, of 
anybody I know. So I suppose I must say be 

12 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE PREFACE 

was like Staker? As for the landscape, there 
ain't iio difference as I sees between one place 
and another to speak of. I don't know nothing 
about the gents' houses. The shops in towns; 
may be different, but as I have not had much 
money to spend, 1 don't remember them much. 
Then as to the cottages in the villages, they 
appear to me to be very much alike. One acre 
of wheat is just like another acre of wheat, and 
a turnip patch is just like another turnip patch, 
without the fly gets it. If I says about it that 
the turnips should be hoed out a foot apart, 
somebody will say they do just as well at four to 
the yard. So what's the use putting anything 
like that down ? " 

"Very well," says he, sensible-like, "we will 
do without the landscape, but we must have the 
description of the persons." 

" Well," I says, " I will try again." 

He gives me a shilling for doing nothing at all, 
because I suppose he saw it was a bit of a 
worry to me. 

We set to work again, the old woman being 
sure that the other books showed the proper 
way of beginning. Two books in particular she 
had fixed her mind on, which she had borrowed. 
I forget the names, but one began : " It was a dark 
stormy night when the Reverend Mr. Working- 
hame entered the cottage of" — I stops her, 

13 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

and says at once, "This won't do. There was 
nothing reverend about Joe, and as for stormy 
nights, which blew the dust into our tent and 
upset the figgers, nothing made him swear more, 
which will not do to put down in a book." 

The other book began: "In the pretty village 
of Claydon, upon a bright May morning. Miss 
Lovelet"— "Too soft," I says, "and I don't 
know much about pretty villages ; they don't seem 
to me very pretty." She then says — 

"You can harden it up a bit as you go along 
when you brings in Joe." 

So for peace and quietness I begins as she 
wishes, altering the names of the village and 
Miss Lovelet into Miss Baxter. But, Lor ! it was 
not printed ; Mr. Saunders scratched all out which 
she told me to put in, although, as it was much 
finer talk than my own, I should have liked it in 
to please the old woman. 

Having made a beginning, howsoever, what I 
wants to say now is, that when I wrote, or the 
old woman wrote for me, some of the following 
accounts of the old 'un and of his waxworks, when 
the baby had done crying of an evening, that I 
did not write down the fine words nor the fancy 
speeches about things that you will find in this 
here book. If it is made proper for gents and 
ladies to read, it is all through what Mr. Saunders 
has done to it hisself Neither did I write the 

14 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE PREFACE 

tales following each other in the beautiful order 
they are here put down. Mr. Saunders said if 
I would write them down he would string them 
together, so what I want to say now is that Mr. 
Saunders found his own string. 

We find this very complimentary of Bill Smith, 
but not quite true. It was suggested that we 
would try to string his tales together. During 
the last four years he may be congratulated upon 
attaining great literary tact. The number of 
ninepenny pages in a bold hand have increased 
at a remarkable rate. Perhaps Mr. Spillman 
may have had some hand in this. We have 
now stuff enough for three books, but it has 
required a lot of unravelling and touching up to 
make one only. There are now possibly ten 
passable beginnings in the manuscript, although 
the first was hard to start, and about as many 
tragic endings, if they could be used. The 
stringing together therefore is limited to making 
the matter run fairly in chronological order. 

It has been found necessary to drop Bill Smith's 
jargon. It is too drawly and profuse. It often 
fills a page with very little matter. A sentence 
may be offered from his vocal utterance, not his 
orthography ; that will not do at any price. " Tsoo 
maister hoye says if maybe yhow together maybe 
ah gooing," comes to, " I said if you are going/' 

IS 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 

i 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

It may be as well possibly occasionally to use 
just a trace of Bill . Smith's mannerism for quaint- 
ness. Further, it will be convenient to change 
names of places to avoid personal matters, and 
to put incidents together that occurred in the 
separate fairs where our scenes are laid to avoid 
a chronological muddle, too evident in his manu- 
script. Really the voluminous mktter I paid for 
was in a .very raw state, so that it needed much 
cooking up, and we may feel a doubt whether 
it will not still be. considered to be somewhat 
underdone. 

Some incidents go back early in the century. 
They formed a part of Bohemian life wherein 
written laws flew far above the heads of the com- 
munity. In the wandering fair-life social liberty 
held rule. Every person acted very nearly 
according to the instincts of his or her being. 
We regret we cannot state this so clearly in 
print as we find it actually. Education and 
refinement were generally absent, except among 
the few who had fallen into a Bohemian life 
through misfortune, crime, or prodigality. We 
must still recognise that the fair-folk formed a 
community, and that the success of the better class 
among them, as in the general battle of life, was 
due to talent. We have kept the record very 
much among this better class. 

At our commencement with Bill Smith, it was 
J6 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE PREFACE 

intended to follow the life of Joe Smith, the 
proprietor of the waxwork show. It will be 
seen that the incidents recorded in these pages 
more nearly follow subjects as they became 
known to Bill Smith, including much of his 
autobiography. 



^ 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CHAPTER II 



JOE SMITH'S START 




N 



HE old Joe Smith, my grandad, 
who we called the old 'un, 
when I was a boy, was our Joe 
Smith's father. Our Joe Smith, 
out of the family, was known as 
the " waxy one," condensed by 
usage to " waxy 'un." When old 
Joe Smith died, my uncle Joe Smith, being his 
eldest son, became the old 'un in the family, like. 
Perhaps you may think this is no matter to the 
reader, but as I may call what was young Joe 
Smith, the old 'un, when speaking of him in this 
'ere book, it may be as well to say so now to 
prevent confusion. Mr. Saunders says, "You 
may write old Joe Smith down as Joe Smith, sen., 
and your uncle Joe Smith, jun., which means the 
old 'un and the young 'un," but if it does, why not 
say so ? 

Well, Joe Smith, sen., I suppose I must say, told 
i8 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH'S START 




me lots of things about Joe Smith, jun., some of 

which I will now tell. 

For one thing, he said, " When my Joe was a boy 

he was a natural artist. That the 

first time that I knowed it was when 

he displayed his talents in a remark- 
able way. He was then only eleven. 

He made a ghost's head out of a 

turnip, in which he put a lighted 

candle inside, to frighten his granny, 

as most of us boys tried to do, only 

that the grannies knew the dodge, 

as they had done it years ago themselves. Joe's 

ghost, however, was not like other ghosts, but 
quite original-like. He got a large 
Swede turnip, and borrowed a gouge 
off his particular friend, the wheel- 
wright's boy, and cut the 
inside out of the turnip till 
the shell was pretty thin. 
He then pared away the 
outside with his pocket- 
knife till it was so thin 
that the light showed 
through it like a lantern, 
except the spots for the 
eyes, nose, and lips. He 

did not cut a straight cut, as we boys did for the 

mouth, but turned down the corners to give it ex- 

19 





Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

pression. Nor did he make the eyes round holes as 
we did, but he made them to show the whites at the 
comers. So that granny said it looked quite * real 
horrid.' Besides this, she said she was sure she 
was frightened with it, which she was never before 
with any of the ghosts the youngsters had made 
out of turnips." 

" When Joe was nearly fourteen he went to the 
wheelwright's, who was also a carpenter and did 
all sorts of woodwork in our village, as a sort of 
apprentice, but without any writing, like, to show 
for it. Here, instead of working on straightforward, 
as he ought to have done, he used to cut figures 
out of bits of green wood, because he was a real 
artist. He got lots of whackings for this, until at 
last Johnson the wheeler kicked him clean out 
of his shop. He had then to go a-minding sheep." 

" Joe then tried to make a peep-show out of two 
tea chests he bought for a shilling of the grocer. 
This he did out in the fields, when sheep-minding. 
He could not get the money to buy the pictures 
nor get the bull's eyes to peep through, but he 
determined he would try to save till he got it, by 
living principally on turnips, * which he could steal.' " 

Just about this time a lucky chance (he was 
always lucky) put him in the way of getting the 
show which he had always hankered after, and 
this put him in the fair-line, which he stuck to all 
his life. 

20 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH'S START 

Joe's luck happened in this way. Tomkins' 
peep-show always came to Stockbottom Fair, which 
was then on in our village. Joe Smith was 
naturally very curious to see how it worked, and 
what was said when the pictures were shown, as 
he was in hopes of some day finishing his own 
show. Old Tomkins was not showing on this fair- 
day. This show was in charge of Mrs. Tomkins, 
a little, thin, white woman with a very weak 
voice, quite consumptive-like. She was standing 
by the show; she looked very sick, and was 
not touting a bit for customers ; no children 
scarcely came to the show, and things were 
very bad. Joe was standing off at a little distance, 
when two larkish lads came up to the show. 

"We means to see the show," they said, "and 
not pay nothing." Then they gave the poor 
woman a push aside, and said, " If you says any- 
thing to us we will black your eye." 

Joe thought to himself, "I will just let them 
have a peep, that will be enough for them." 
Then as soon as they got their heads to the 
bull's eyes he walks slowly up behind them, 
and catching each by one ear, he holds them 
both with his sharp pincers, so that they cannot 
move. They hollers out, but it is of no use. 
Joe says — 

" I won't let you go till you both beg the poor 
woman her pardon, and pays her for peeping." 

21 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

This they do pretty sharp, as he keeps on pinching 
harder and harder. When he lets them go they 




both slink out of the fair, laughed at by the other 
boys who then came round. 

Joe was a strong, big fellow then, and no one in 

22 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH'S START 

the village of nearly his own age could fight hinnu 
All the strong young fellows round had tried, so 
that he was looked upon as a sort of champion. 
The poor old woman at the show thanked him, 
saying — 

" You are a brave fellow, and God will reward 
you for defending the helpless." 

She then tells Joe about her affairs. " My old 
man is very bad at a cottage just by where we 
lodged last night. The doctor has seen him and 
does not think he will live. It is neglected 
typhoid fever, which came bad after we had 
started for this fair, so that we were obliged to 
keep on till we got here. He would not let me 
stop with him at the cottage, but made me go to 
the show. If you will mind the show a bit for me, 
I will run in to see to him." 

We cannot say whether it was the effect of the 
kind act Joe had just done (he was always 
polite when it suited his purpose), or whether it 
was the pride of being master for the time of the 
kind of show that he had fixed his heart upon, 
but this is certain that he had never felt himself 
so important in his life before. He had heard the 
show speech over many times and had paid great 
attention to it, but his memory of words was not 
good, so that all he could get through out of the 
eight pictures was — 

No. I. "The battle of Waterloo, with the figger 
23 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which 
ybu sees on the right." 

No. 2. " The wedding of the Queen with Prince 
Albert (after peeping in at the side). You sees the 
figgers of the Queen and Prince Albert in the 
centre." 

For the five following pictures he said, " You sees 
the bootiful pictures before you, and as Master 
Tomkins is so ill, you may call them just what you 
like, till he gets better, except the last, which will 
follow." 

When he pulls the last string he becomes quite 
demonstrative. "Here you have a correct repre- 
sentation of a farmhouse on fire, with all the 
corn ricks burning round, and the pigs and cows 
running about in all directions " (to which he adds, 
quite of his own composition), "as we may bet 
the poor pigs did when their tails were scorched. 
The spot of grease where the candle stands behind 
shows the flames coming out of the farmhouse." 

This last observation Joe Smith put in himself, 
as he had found it out Tomkins would never 
have made it known. It foriped the best part of 
the scenic deception, and was supposed never to 
have been found out by any of the youngsters who 
had seen the show. 

If the tale of the show failed, the touting cer- 
tainly did not. Many recognised Joe. They 
knew he was not the familiar showman, so he 

24 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH'S START 

explained the matter of Tomkins' illness, which 
ended by asking them "to have a half-penny 
peep for the sake of poor old Tomkins." If 
they said they had "seed it afore," he said, 
"see it again, as it may be the last time in 
your life you will get the chance." This drawed 
surprisingly. 

Although the show pleased him very much at 
starting at one o'clock, he began to feel very uneasy^ 
and more so as time went on and no Mrs. Tomkins 
returned, as promised ; still he touted and ex- 
plained the scenes as before. At last he saw her 
coming just at six o'clock in the evening. She 
looked if anything whiter than when she left, and 
tottered as she came towards him. When she got 
up to the show she held on and gasped out, with 
turned-up eyes — 

"The old man's gone!" and then fell straight 
down on the ground by the side of the show. 
Joe made all the people stand aside. He thought 
for a minute she was dead. He took her hand 
and held it to feel if it was cold. In a minute or 
two she opened her eyes and said, " I am so sorry, 
but I feel better now." Joe, thinking it was 
weakness from neglect of taking food, perhaps 
truly, told a boy in a whisper to fetch him half a 
pint of the best stout, and put twopence into his 
hand. While the boy was gone, he got another 
lad to fetch a chair from a neighbouring 

25 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

cottage to set her up on. When the stout came, 
she said — 

" I cannot touch it." 

" It is just the thing that will pick you up," he 
repKed. 

She gave way to him and drank some of it, and 
then fell back in the chair faint She soon came 
to again this time, and said, " I feel better. '^ She 
tried to stand up, but found she could not Joe 
then told her — 

" It is no use, mother ; you must go back home 
and lie down. Til mind the show." She thought 
he had better close it and bring it in, and thanked 
him very much for all his kindness to her, more by 
her expression than by her words. 

"Trade is good just now, mother," he replied, 
" and the money I take will help you." 

He really did not feel inclined to give up his 
important position. He asked some of the women 
that were standing round to see her home and try 
to help her in the affairs she had to see to on 
account of her poor husband's death. This they 
undertook to do» He went on as before with the 
show, very much to his own satisfaction. 

The business of the show was carried on till 
past ten o'clock, when Joe was quite exhausted by 
talking so much, and very thirsty, so he had an 
extra pint, and then pushed the show back to Mrs. 
Tomkins' lodgings. He handed her in all the 

26 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH'S START 

takings, except what he paid for two pints of beer 
and a bit of bread and cheese, and a shilling which 
he thought he was entitled to for his loss of time. 
This he did not mention. The money given in 
amounted to 13s. 6Jd. It very much surprised 
Mrs. Tomkins, as it seldom amounted to so much 
in the time when Tomkins was living. She gave 
Joe two shillings of it, and asked him to come 
round, if he possibly could, next morning to see 
her. 

The women helped her to perform the last offices 
to the dead, and, after the customary glass of gin 
was sent round, they sent on the undertaker to her 
to take measure of the body and arrange for the 
funeral. 

This was not difficult, as Tomkins was in a 
benefit society, in which his wife received £$ 
upon his death. After showing the undertaker 
that his subscription was duly paid up, he con- 
tracted for the funeral, with best silk velvet pall, 
and hoods and scarfs and cloaks for six mourners, 
in the most respectable style, for fifty shillings. It 
was agreed that the money should be sent directly 
from the secretary of the club to the undertaker, 
Upon her signature being placed on a form which 
he brought with him ready in his pocket, to be 
signed for security. 

The funeral took place three days after, on the 
very day that Tomkins had booked his place for 

27 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

the Eastwick Fair. All the showmen and show- 
women had gone from Stockbottom to this fair, 
and Tomkins* show stood melancholy-like in the 
yard of the Traveller's Home, from which the funeral 
afterwards took place. Mrs. Tomkins said, all her 
friends had gone, and asked Joe to be mourner 
with her. This was very necessary, as she could 
scarcely walk the half-mile, which was the distance 
to the church, by herself. 

They were the sole mourners. After Mrs. Tom- 
kins had paid a pound for the ground in a low 
corner of the churchyard, where she could put up 
a grave rail afterward between posts, and paid fees, 
ten shillings, and two shillings to the sexton to 
look after banking up the grave, and given gin 
round to the bearers, and four shillings to Joe for 
his loss of time, and some small expenses, she had 
just twelve shillings left out of the burial money 
toward her weeds. 

, After the funeral was over, Joe had taken a dead 
.liking to Mrs. Tomkins, and meant to stick to her, 
as he could not see how she could get on by 
herself. He saw it was a chance of his becoming 
part proprietor of the show. Mrs. Tomkins saw 
the matter in the same light, so she offered him 
half share of the profits of the show, if he would 
help manage it for her. This matter was soon 
arranged, and did not need any writing, because 
neither she nor Joe could read it, even if necessary, 

28 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH'S START 

and so they started together, and Joe became 
established at once in the show-line. 

At this time Joe was not much over fifteen, and 
Mrs. Tomkins might have been near forty. When 
Joe, although a little bumptious in a general way, 
called her mother, as we do mostwise old women, 
I must say he did it with a show of affection for 
her, as though he felt she was in this case a mother 
to him. I like to say this of the old *un, because, 
as I mean to tell further on, in many ways he was 
a very rough fellow, particularly to me and to men 
generally. In his younger days he had some good 
points in his character. Although a blusterer, he 
was generally kind to women and children. 

Mrs. Tomkins and Joe missed Eastwick Fair. 
Joe made up his mind they should be up to start 
for Hoginton Fair in time. He got the peep-show 
out in front of the home before five o'clock in the 
morning, cleaned it up and oiled the axles ready 
to start as soon as Mrs. Tomkins made her appear- 
ance, for which he was particular to have her 
called. Poor woman, she dragged downstairs at 
six o'clock ! 

They had their breakfast together, but could not 
get off till past seven, and as the fair was on the same 
day, and near nine miles off, this would bring 
them rather late to their stand, particularly as it 
was clear that Joe would have nearly all the push- 
ing of the show to do himself. 

29 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

This happened just about the time that dogs 
to pull vehicles were abolished by Act of Parlia- 
ment. Before this time showmen, pedlars, and 
poor men used to have a dog to help them along, 
but by the kindness of this Act the wives had to 
push us much as the dogs used formerly to pull, 
which wore them out, poor creatures! Some 
humane people said, as they were not dumb crea- 
tures, it did not matter. I think if some of our 
philanthropic members of Parliament at the time 
had seen women, often with children on their backs, 
pushing trucks and barrows throughout . the long 
nights, they would have had more humanity. 

Some showmen, of course, could keep a donkey, 
and Parliament had decided that whacking a 
donkey or a wife was quite a different thing from 
whacking a dog. Not that I know much about dog- 
whacking myself. The dog, as I know him, is a 
natural companion to a man. Among the poor 
travellers of all kinds he was treated as a friend, 
shared his master's meal, slept with him, and 
worked and took care of his property willingl}% 
being often a moral example to his master. 

The Act certainly made many poor men marry, 
which was all right at first, but when naturally a 
baby came, which had to be carried and fed, the poor 
woman, who had to help push the barrow or carry 
a burden as well as her child, often broke down. 
Occasionally the baby died or was left on. the 

30 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITHES START 

workhouse steps before daylight, that bread might 
be earned to maintain life in the coming day. 
This was not, as some philanthropists may think, 
without feverish tears and sad heartrendings of the 
poor forlorn mother, hardened as she may have 
been by the pangs of hunger. 

Hold, I must pull up! I forgot I was telling 
about Joe and the show. He and Mrs. Tomkins 
dragged in very late to Hoginton Fair. It was past 
twelve o'clock, and the best part of the morning 
trade was gone, as many of the youngsters had 
spent their fair-money. On the way Joe found 
that he had not only to push the machine along, 
but the only way to get Mrs. Tomkins along, even 
with the frequent rests, was for her to hold on to 
the- show to be helped herself. 

When they arrived at Hoginton, Joe, seeing her 
so ill, took her straight off to the home where the 
Tomkins had always stayed. She crawled to bed 
quite exhausted, and remained there,. under the 
landlady's care, till the next day. 

After a day's rest she recovered a bit, although 
at times her cough was very troublesome. She 
was ju§t able to stand by the show to describe the 
scenes in a scarcely audible voice, while Joe touted 
up the boys and girls for customers. In a month 
or so Joe had learned the descriptions of the 
pictures, and helped at times in the speech. As 
regards the show-words, some boys would have 

31 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

learned them all in a day. Joe was very slow at 
getting words by heart, as I said before. 

When fair-time was over late in the autumn, and 
they had saved a few pounds, Joe went to do any 
work he could find, and the show was closed up in 
a shed at the back of the cottage where Tomkins 
and she had formerly stayed at times. Poor 
woman! she never rallied in health much. Joe 
used to call to see her every Sunday ; she appeared 
to him to get weaker and weaker. He feared she 
was near her end. 

It was the Sunday before Christmas when Joe 
last called, in her lifetime. Hhe doctor had been 
to see her. She asked him straight how long she 
could live, as she wanted to make all arrangements. 
He told her he was afraid she might not be here 
many days. 

Mrs. Tomkins was up and dressed when Joe 
entered the room, so, he thought she was a little 
better. She told him all the doctor had said, which 
brought him into tears, for he could not tell how fond 
he had become of her, and of her gentle ways, such 
as Joe had never before seen in his life. She gave 
him her benefit-society book tied up in paper. It 
was all paid up. She asked him to do for her as he 
had done for poor Tom, that was her late husband. 
She then handed him some money which was en- 
closed in part of an old stocking, which had been 
sewn upon her petticoat. This J oe found afterwards, 

32 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH'S START 

when he opetted it, amounted to eleven pounds. She 
told him that the show belonged to him, thanked 
him for all his manly kindness to her, and kissed 
his hand, saying good-bye till he saw her again. 
This she knew, although she did not say so, would 
be in her coffin. When Joe afterward opened the 
parcel to see the benefit-society book, he found it 
contained also her rent-book of her present lodg- 
ings, which was paid up till the end of the year. 

Joe called on Christmas morning as soon as he 
could get from his work, and found that she 
had died in the night. The landlady was sobbing, 
as naturally women do, upon the death of a friend. 
She said Mrs. Tomkins, poor dear, had made every 
arrangement for her death and burial ; that she 
was sensible till the last moment. She asked the 
landlady to hold her hand until she was g9ne, 
saying, " If you hold my hand I may meet you 
first when you come to the place where I am going 
for everlasting peace." Here poor Joe sobbed, and 
could hear no more. 

The poor woman was buried as she wished. 
She said before her death that she would have 
liked to be buried with poor Tom, but as this was 
fifty miles away it was quite impossible ; but it did 
ngt. matter, they would mieet hereafter. 

_Mrs. Tomkins was the daughter of a small 
tradesman in the village. The family had a grave 
with a board or rail supported upon two posts, head 
C 33 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

and foot. Her name, age, and time of death, were 
recorded in the usual manner on the rail. 

A month or so after the funeral Joe left his 
employment He then set to work to beautify his 
show for the next fair-season. He painted it up 
smart with vermilion, emerald-green, chrome, and 
German ultramarine. He then set to work to 
carve the Royal Arms, to surmount it, out of a slab 
of lime-tree. Wonderfully well he did this, con- 
sidering his tools. The lion's face was most 
human, very like BuUer the farmer of Wortlestead, 
whom he had in his mind as looking very fierce. 
The unicorn, which somewhat resembled a donkey 
with the addition of a horn, had all the animation 
that we customarily see in stuffed animals in an 
old museum. The whole outward effect of the 
show, as an object of light, shade, and colour, and 
as a natural artist's first attempt with the chisel 
and brush, was highly creditable. It was found 
altogether to be most attractive to the juvenile 
mind, for whom it was designed. 

Some years after this Joe made great improve- 
ments in the show, extending it in dimensions to a 
four-peep-hole one. He surrounded the last scene 
in the show with fine chopped hay to represent 
straw. He carved with his own hands a number of 
cows and pigs, which he coloured naturally. A 
row of spectators in the foreground, made of penny 
dolls which he dressed in bright colours, appeared 
34 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH'S START 

to be present, to sit out the entire performance. 
No young mind could reasonably expect a larger 
amount of excitement than this shpw for a half- 
penny. After four years he sold the whole affair 
up, as he had saved money and had become more 
ambitious. He then bought an old show in the 
wax-line, of which I have to tell more in what 
follows. 




35 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 




CHAPTER III 

THE OLD SHOW AND THE NEW 

UST outside Barnet Horse and 
Pleasure Fair, about the year 
1840 upon the fourth of Sep- 
tember, there stood an old 
gipsy van, with an old grey 
horse tethered to the hind wheel. 
An inscription upon the van 
announced to the public that the van contained 
Tuffey's Waxwork Show. This show had been 
well known to the fair -folk and visitors for a 
quarter of a century at least. Tuffey and his wife 
had also been known characters for this period. 
At the time of which we are speaking Tuffey was 
dead and buried. A large bill upon the van 
announced that Tuffey's Waxwork Show would 
be sold by auction on the sixth of September by 
Mr. Hammersley, the well-known auctioneer of the 
district,for the benefit of the late Mr. Tuffey's widow. 
The van was very much out of repair, and 

36 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE OLD SHOW AISTD THE NEW 

looked very shabby for want of paint. The horse 
that was tethered to the wheel looked a very sorry 
creature. The waxwork figures W^r^ packed away 
at the! end of the van, with some of their heads 
otily distinguishable from the doorway, which 
formed the entrance to the van. The auctioneer's 
bill announced that there were striking repre- 
sentations of the following important persons in 
the show: Queen Elizabeth, Napoleon, Nelson, 
the Duke of Wellington, George the Third, King 
William the Fourth and Queen Adelaide, three 
notorious murderers, and Mary Scott, who lived 
to be one hundred and twenty-five years of age. 
There were also two important blocks surrounded 
by suitable scenery, representing the execution of 
Mary Queen of Scots, and the finding of Moses. 

These announcements were really unnecessary, 
as the fair-folk, who would be the only probable 
bidders at the auction, knew Tuffey's waxwork 
very well. They also knew, to the disadvantage 
of the sale, that the figures were smoky, dirty, and 
altogether in the most deplorable condition. They 
further knew that Tuffey and his wife of late 
years could scarcely get subsistence out of the 
show. Upon the whole, it was not probable that 
there would be very severe competition among the 
bidders at the sale. The old horse being nearly 
past work, the van only appeared to be estimated 
by the fair- folk of any value. 

37 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

The auctioneer had arranged that the whole 
waxwork show should be sold in one lot, including 
the van, horse, teAt, and other fixtures. The fair- 
folk at the sale clamoured out for the auctioneer 
to divide the lot into three. They suggested to 
him that there might be many offers for the 
valuable waxMvorks, which some of them did not 
know how to carry on, and some might fancy the 
old horse and the tent, and others only require 
the van. The auctioneer, after some argument 
and upon the assurance that the fair-folk would 
not bid at all for the lot as it stood, consented to 
divide it, leaving the van till the last lot He gave 
a very elaborate description of the waxworks, 
which excited a great deal of mirth among the 
bystanders, as he had evidently read the descrip- 
tion only, and had not seen the figures. His most 
powerful persuasion could not elicit a bid. One 
lad certainly called out fourpence, but the 
auctioneer would not take this as a start. The 
horse was also offered in a lot with the tent, but 
as twenty-four shillings was the highest bid, it was 
declared unsold. After this the auctioneer, with 
many expressions of anger at being fooled, which 
only excited laughter from the bystanders, put 
the whole together again and offered it as one 
lot 

There was now a little competition, as the van 
was estimated to be worth about fifteen pounds. 

38 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE OLD SHOW AND THE NEW 

Joe rested very anxiously till the bidding appeared 
to be going off at sixteen pounds ; he then bid ten 
shillings advance, and a little competition fol- 
lowed with another showman. It was finally 
knocked down to Joe at eighteen pounds ten. 
The auctioneer appeared to hesitate in the bid 
as he appeared to be so young (he was under 
twenty), but as Joe walked up to the table with 
a canvas bag of sovereigns in his hand and com- 
menced to count out the money he was reassured. 
The payment was handed over to the clerk to 
settle. This was quickly done. Joe put the horse 
into the shafts, and in less than an hour he was 
on his way home with his purchase in profound 
delight He had quite made up his mind to go 
as high as thirty pounds for the lot. 

After Joe got home, he saw clearly that the 
horse was past work. He therefore sold it for 
chicken food to a poultry farmer in the neighbour- 
hood, who was trying experiments in rearing 
poultry to supply eggs to the London market. 

Upon unpacking the van he found the greater 
part of the old stuffed and papier-mache figures 
.mouldy and rotten. These he burnt, reserving 
only such parts of the waxwork and clothes as 
might be of use again in making up new figures. 
The tent was also in a very bad state, but this Joe 
mended up to last a season or two till he could 
better afford a new one. The van was also out of 

39 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

repair. He got the smith to reinstate tiie worn- 
out ironwork. He repaired the woodwork him* 
self and painted it entirely in bright colours. His 
own name was put in the place of the late Mr. 
Tuffey. The entire outward appearance of the 
turn-out was now most respectable. 
Like every young man, Joe 6ver-estintated the 
^ value of inoney. He found when he had got his 
van in perfect order and bought a young horse, for 
which he gave a gipsy twelve pounds, he had only 
about twenty pounds left to make up his wax- 
work show and find money for a start. This was 
very distressing to his mind, as he felt sure that 
if he could not present something of a show 
better than Tuffey had done, he could not get 
a living out of it. There was another matter 
troubled him. In Tuffey's show there were fifteen 
figuires in all, and these occupied half the van as 
they stood up full dressed at one end of it. The 
figures when packed were held up together by 
a bar across the van, ov^r which the tent was hung 
so as to form a padding. Joe felt fully convinced 
that this small number of figures was insufficient to 
form the necessary attraction for a waxwork show. 
At the same time, the space left by Tuffey's 
arrangement for sleeping and cooking could not 
be greatly encroached upon. 

The Tuffeys, that is, Mr. and Mrs. and a family 
of three, had certainly been lodged and boarded 

40 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE OLD SHOW AND THE NEW 

for some years in a space of six by five feet of 
floor space, which teinamed in the van after the 
waxworks were Securely packed away. How this 
was done ho fellow who has n6t been brought up 
in a gipsy family cab possibly conceive. If we 
add to this, that Mrs. Tufifey was a robust, portly 
person, and she had most decidedly a temper that 
developed certain abrupt motions of the body 
which demanded space — we may then realise the 
pressing family difficulties under these conditions. 
These difficulties never could have been solved 
had not Mr. Tuffey made himself what is termed 
socially smalL In fact he kept outside the van 
of an evening, unless he was specially required 
within, until he thought the family were securely 
packed and Mrs. Tuffey must be getting sleepy. 
Then he slipped into bed by her side. He slipped 
out again in the morning before she was quite 
awake. So that, altogether, although his presence 
squeezed up the home -space a little, it did not 
endure for a longer time than Tufifey's home-com- 
forts demanded. In the daytime he generally 
had his share of the meals put outside the van. 

Joe saw there were many disadvantages in leav- 
ing the figures exposed to dust and smoke standing 
in the van, which the dirty state of Tuffi^y's show 
fully demonstrated. Further, he saw he must de- 
vise some scheme by which they might be packed 
closer, so that he could make up a better show. 
41 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

It may be interesting to $ few mechanically > 
minded readers to know how Joe's waxwork sdiow 
was made up. Those who have no mechanical 
taste may skip the following chapter without 
missing .other particulars of Joe Smith's life. 



42 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CHAPTER IV 



MAKING UP THE -NEW SHOW 




you go to a brari span-new 
waxworks, as I once did near 
London, where all the figures 
are perfect,^— where waxwork 
men, women, and babies, if 
there are any, are all pale rose- 
pink, with still rosier - tinted 
cheeks, looking generally, maybe, as human 
beings would if they had been dipped in boiling 
water and then scraped, — ^you see then, of course, 
everything in the highest perfection of waxwork 
art If you look at the proportions of the men's 
bodies you find them all rather short and of 
exactly the same size, because they are made all 
in one mould. They are set up on their legs 
exactly square to the square board they stand upon. 
The legs are all true to one position, and exactly 
alike ; the eyes are all set to stare quite square at 
you. If you look along a row of the men you find 

43 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

them set out in as true a line as a row of skittles. 
The waistcoats and trousers fit as close as though 
they had been tacked on tightly from the back 
by an upholsterer This we may term the true per- 
fection of waxwork art; it is the starting-point 
of a new show. Such may have been Tuffey's 
show at some remote period, we may well admit. 
If you now take such a show, squeeze the figures 
up tightly in a row, do this forty times over yearly, 
for twenty-five years, you may judge of the con- 
dition in which the show came into the hands of 
its present proprietor. 

Such a dilapidated show, and the small amount 
of funds left in Joe's hands, would have led a dull 
man into the " slough of despair," whatever that may 
be. But, as we have seen, he was a man of great 
resources ; his perplexities only spurred on his 
inventive faculties. To buy new figures was quite 
out of the question — his money would go no way. 
You could not buy the body of a man with 
movable arms for less than a pound, and when 
you got it, it was only hollow paper-machy, as we 
call it If you gave it a squeeze, you might say 
good-bye to it Of course you could mend it up 
with glue and rag and paper, but if you did this 
fifty times over the man became deformed and 
heavy. We will show how Joe managed to make 
a much more durable and portable man for half a 
crown. 

44 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MAKING UP THE NEW SHOW 

The plan of making the men's bodies, which 
was invented when the show first came into Joe's 
hands, was continued till its close many .years 
later, so that I can speak of it as I remember it. 
It was kept a profound secret among ourselves. 
I am not sure I should tell it now, only Mr. 
Saunders says it is our duty to leave the world 
better than we find it. 

. To make up a man, Joe Smith used to get the 
forked branch of a young tree, oak, ash, or willow, 
whichever he could find came nearest to the 
desired form. If there was time, this was kept 
seasoning, tied to shape, for a year or so. In the 
first show it had to be used in a green state. The 
fork of the branch formed the legs of the man ; a 
thin piece of wood, made to the form of the 
section of the body at the hips, had a hole made 
in its centre. This board was slipped over the 
stem of the branch tightly down upon the crutch. 
It was held in its position firmly by wedges and 
nails. Another thin board, having two standing 
ledges fixed to it to take the head, was bored with 
a hole in the centre, and fixed on the end of the 
stem. This board was shaped to the form of the 
shoulders. A hole was made near each end of the 
shoulder board, through which string was threaded 
to hold the arm on. The arms were made out of 
suitable branches of trees. This represented the 
entire skeleton. The further work was all artistic. 

45 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

The shoulders were padded up with hay and 
covered with canvas tacked down to the shoulder 
board. A few small brass-headed nails were driven 
into the edge of this board, the standing heads of 
which formed studs to hang the breast on. The 
breast was made of canvas, with cane ribs to the 
shape of the body, like a pair of stays, only stiffer. 
The stays had button-holes at the top to go over 
the nail-head studs, to hold them firmly. When 




the show was struck, the stays were taken off and 
rolled up for portability. 

The knees and elbows of the men were formed 
of hay-bands tied on with string. If the arm was to 
be placed horizontally, several hay-bands were tied 
upon it Large holes were cut through the soles 
of the boots, so that the leg sticks could go through 
them into holes in the floor board, to hold the man 
up stiffly. As the boots were loose on the sticks, 
they could be set out as desired. If stockings were 
shown, the entire legs were moulded up with hay 

46 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MAKING UP THE NEW SHOW 



and string, and covered with canvas. The figures 

J show the differ- 

hL.X I ) f^^ gjj^ stages of a 

man in making. 
Men made in 
the manner de- 
scribed were not 
all alike as with 
the moulded 
papier- mach^ 
figures of the 
ordinary shows, 
or even of the 
best London 
They varied according to the bends of the 
and 
much 
na- 
Ifjoe 




TAe Regular Style. 



ones. 

sticks 

were 

more 

tural. 



tried t o 
make them 
look stiff, he 
could not. 

As re- 
gards the 
hands, they 
are always 
a difficulty. 




Wax hands cost six shillings a 

47 



Joe Smith* s Style, 

pair, which 



IS 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 



too dear for the travelling showman ; besides 
which, they are very delicate and have to be 
packed away with the heads for security. They do 
not appear very artistic, as they are generally all 
alike. The left hand has the thumb turned 
inwards ; it was originally modelled from the hand 
of a beggar following his profession. The hands 
being alike, they have a little sameness when placed 
upon every figure. The old 'un made his hands 
out of kid gloves stuffed with bran, and I must 
say they looked more natural than the wax ones in 
most shows. Some of the ladies had white kid 
gloves, wliich were stained with madder. Robbers 
and murderers wore dark tan gloves. There were 
really only two pairs of wax hands 
in my uncle's show when I first 
knew it. 

I may now show the value of 
the old *un's invention for pack- 
ing men in a van. They were 
made so strong that you might 
squeeze them together as you liked, 
and the parts of one went into 
the parts of the other, so , that 
you could pack eight or nine of. 
them in the space taken by two 
of the papier-mach^ men. Mr. 
Pitcher has made a sketch of them, to show hpw 
they looked packed in one end of our van. It 

48 




Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MAKING UP THE NEW SHOW 

required a good bit of tact to get them close in 
this manner ; as I had to do it, I may say it took 
me some years' study to get them as tight as 
possible for travelling. 

As to the women's figures, which we called in the 
show " gals," even to Her Majesty, who was called 
" the gal," these Joe found did much better in papier- 
mach^, particularly if they were afterwards sewn 
up in cloth. The reason of this is that you only 
want half a gal at most. All that is required 
below the waist, with a crinoline, is a stick. Her 
head and its dressing, of course, is a separate and 
a wonderful piece of work. Still her constitution, 
as she is bought ready-made in the wax-line, is 
very frail. She will not bear rough usage any 
more than a papier-mach6 man. You must treat 
her gently, and then even you will find much 
travelling is bad for her. Joe tried to give the 
gals a better constitution than was common, and 
succeeded. 

Joe's experience in making up female figures 
was more various than it was with men. He was 
always thinking how he could save the most room 
for a crib, which he hoped some day might be 
occupied by his wife, when he could find one to 
answer to his ambition. He tried to get the gals 
made in wire-work. These were light and nice, 
but when they got an accidental squeeze in pack- 
ing they buckled up, and you could never set them 
D 49 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

up right again. He then tried basket-work in 
green osiers, made by our village basket-maker, 
under his directions. These were a much greater 
success. They were light and portable, and the in- 
teriors made receptacles for the clothes, particularly 
some he had made to open in halves like baskets. 
The only defect was that our basket-maker was no 
artist, and Joe had to pack out the form in canvas 
with stuffing. Being a true artist himself, in later 
years he would have liked to have modelled from 
the nude figure of some of the young ladies among 
the fair- folk ; but as objections were made from 
want of sympathy in these people with true 
art, he had to take the form from the least 
mended of the papier-machd figures. Basket-work 
for the gals was adhered to till the last, as this 
was found to be light and durable. I think 
the queen was the first hollow basket-work figure 
he made, and she lasted on till the end of the 
show. 

I should mention another scheme for the gals. 
I do not know whether it was invented by the old 
'un, or whether it was a patent or something of the 
kind ; but it certainly was the best, if it could 
have been made durable. This gal, which was 
afterward turned into the Sleeping Beauty, of which 
I shall have more to say, was made out of india- 
rubber waterproof cloth. It had been coloured pink. 
When it was blown out it looked like a perfectly 

SO 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MAKING UP THE NEW SHOW 

natural woman. When the air was out of it, it 
could be all rolled up except the waxwork head, 
and took next to no room when packed away. 
When I first knew the figure it was leaky with 
many mends. The old 'un had stuffed it with hay, 
with an ox bladder placed in the chest, which 
was connected to a pair of bellows with an elastic 
pipe. The working of the bellows behind a curtain 
gave motion to the chest, to imitate the breathing 
of the Sleeping Beauty. 

Joe, in the first season, used as many of the old 
waxwork heads as he could, warming them up 
and cleaning them as well as he could. After a 
time they were nearly all replaced by new ones, 
of which I shall say more further on. For making 
the heads you require a good artist It is a pro- 
fession by Itself. Generally you will find the 
pretty girls* heads very well got up, as there is a 
good demand for them from the barbers. They are 
nearly all alike. With regard to the men, you 
must have a difference. You cannot make the 
same face do for the Duke of Wellington and Lord 
Brougham, although, of course, in travelling wax- 
works you may have many alike, as the visitors do 
not know the difference, with change of hair and 
colouring. The backs of the heads you may have 
all alike. If you notice waxworks you see all 
the men's heads are widish, so that the mould will 
divide upright in a line through the centre of the 

SI 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

ear. Wax ears are all alike, and are stuck on, pro- 
jecting much beyond what is natural. Therefore 
you see it is only the face that has to be altered or 
modelled to make the man. Phrenology, if ever 
so true, is quite out of it. 

When packing heads away for travelling, Joe 
took great care to have each head put in a separate 
box or compartment of a box. Wax hands or feet 
were also put in separate boxes, unless there was 
room with the head for a separate division. The 
bodies had a flat board and pin at the top, upon 
which the head was set up when taken out of its box. 

After working hard, almost night and day during 
the first winter following the purchase of Tufifey's 
show, Joe was able to start in the wax-line with 
eighteen figures, for which he bought five second- 
hand heads ; but altogether the affair was much 
more presentable than the old show. Its worst 
defect was the rotten, dirty clothing of the figures. 
This Joe made up his mind should be set right 
with the first money he could save. Year by year 
the show was more developed, until its contents 
were in a high state of perfection, for a travelling 
show, as we may see farther on. 

After the first season the old 'un set to work, 
clothing his figures in the best way he could with 
the money he had saved. I may give a description 
of one morning's purchases, just to point out my 
uncle's general 'cuteness. When he was at first 

52 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MAKING UP THE NEW SHOW 

about to buy clothes he made inquiries, as far as he 
could, and found out that Petticoat Lane, W^ite- 
chapel, was the great mart for old clothing. He was 
told that he would have to be very sharp in dealing 
with Jews. I do not think this instruction was at all 
necessary, as he was, to say the least of it, moder- 
ately 'cute by nature. I was not born when his 
traffic in old clothes commenced, but in later years, 
when I was with him, I always accompanied him 
once during the winter to carry his parcels. I may 
mention the first time I went to town with him, to 
describe his general manner. In this instance, he 
wanted a few hats for our men and a coat for 
himself. He intended to use the coat he then 
wore for one of his figures. We came up to town 
in the afternoon in one of the numerous waggons 
that were bringing goods from the north. It was 
arranged that we should sleep the night at the 
Saracen's Head in Bishopsgate Street, and start 
out directly after breakfast for our purchases. 

Upon arriving at Petticoat Lane, after buying a 
few old garments that we required, a Jew came up 
to my uncle, and said, " I have been thinking of 
you ever since you bought a pair of smalls of 
me last winter, and I wanted to see you very 
particular. One of the old nobility, who has lost a 
lot of money at cards, offered me his Sunday coat 
if I would just lend him four pounds for a few days, 
till he had better luck at cards, when he would 

53 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

bring it back again and pay me good interest. 
He never canne for it again, so I suppose he had 
another run of bad luck. It is past the time for 
returning the money. I suppose he may have got 
shot in a duel, as this often happens in such cases. 




So I have put it by and would not show it (Strush 
shgod !) to anybody until you had seen it." 

My uncle took a fancy to the coat, and went 
into the shop and tried it on. He found it fitted 
him, just as though it had been made for him, 
except that the sleeves wanted shortening a bit, 
which my aunt could do. 
54 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MAKING UP THE NEW SHOW 

Mr. Solomon said, "I am glad I have seen you, 
as it would only fit a most important person." 

" What's the price ? " my uncle asked. 

"I only want to see the money back I lent 
on it ; just four pounds, that is all." 

The old 'un was very sharp ; he replied, " Can't 
afford it." 

"Well," says the Jew, ** I will take three pounds 
ten." He gives it over to his man to do it up at 
once for the gent. 

" Very sorry things is so bad this winter," my 
uncle says, " can only afford twenty-five shillings 
for a new coat. Then I expect I shall get in 
trouble at home with the old woman for laying 
out so much money upon myself." 

The Jew said, after some bargaining, " I suppose 
I must take fifty shillings for it, but it is cheap as 
dirt at four pounds." 

" No, put it by," the old 'un replies ; " will call 
next winter. If better luck, and I can spare the 
money, will buy it then." 

After this the old 'un went away and asked the 
price of another coat that was hanging outside 
another shop, and pretended to bargain for it; 
when presently up came the Jew's man and told 
him his governor would take thirty-five shillings for 
the coat, as things were so bad. The old 'un said, 
" No." The man then said he supposed he must 
take his money, and twenty-five shillings buys it. 

55 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

My uncle said he never made a better bargain 
in togs in his life. This coat was nearly new, and 
his coat in an ordinary way took a yard more gloth 
than most men's. Further, he never bought such 
good blue cloth or gilt buttons, if he had a coat 
made for him. 

When the old 'un first had the show the ladies 
were in a worse state than the men. He cleaned 
them up as well as he could, and mended and 
pinned up the slits. He found that the cotton and 
woollen clothing they had at first was very unsuit- 
able, so he dressed them all in silk. This, although 
few would think it, was the cheapest material to 
buy second-hand. The old 'un got his silk from 
the marine store-shops, as they are termed. I sup- 
pose it is because they have nothing to do with the 
sea, and the word marine is used to disguise the 
business they do actually. I have heard that these 
shops have been known to receive stolen property. 

Marine store-dealers do not buy silk, but they 
buy all other rags by the pound. Silk cannot 
be used up again as wool may into new materials, 
therefore these traders throw out all the silk. 
The old 'un got them to save it for him, offering 
two to three pence a pound for large pieces. As 
he got his dresses, made up with motley colours, 
this answered very well. Much later he bought 
old theatrical dresses when our show was being 
brought to its highest point of perfection. 

56 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 




CHAPTER V 

DUCK 

^S soon as Joe had started his 
show it became clear to him 
that it was at least a two- 
handed job. He could not be 
soliciting customers outside and 
attending to the inside at 'the 
same time. Further, when his 
back was turned to look out for coming visitors, 
the rough country lads were given to play prac- 
tical jokes with his figures in the show. He made 
several attempts to get help by employing one 
of the loose lot of supers, or gads as we called 
them, who always hang about fairs for an occa- 
sional job. Men of this stamp were not generally 
honest, sober, or industrious enough to be of much 
use. A boy was scarcely strong enough for the 
work, as there was a good bit of lifting and 
hauling, in tent-pitching and other work. If an 
odd labouring man was set to the work, he was 

57 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

scarcely active enough, and cost fourteen shillings 
a week in fair-time if he moved from fair to fair, as 
he could not live on wages which would be suf- 
ficient in a fixed home. Joe, with his natural 
sharpness, kept his eyes open for any chance of 
securing the services of a suitable man. 

Besides the heavy work of putting up the tent 
and the fittings, attending to the horse during fair- 
times was one of his troubles, as the horse very 
frequently could not be stabled near the show. 
Taking all these matters into consideration, Joe 
made up his mind that if he could get one of the 
sharp, strong donkey-boys he had seen on the 
sands at Yarmouth, he would most nearly answer 
his purpose, for his odd man. 

One of these lads, he thought, being used to 
donkeys, would have little to learn in managing 
a horse. Further, such a lad being very free with 
his tongue, and having plenty of sharpness, he had 
no doubt he could be taught touting and other 
matters useful to him, much easier than teaching 
an ordinary dull labourer. 

Wandering about Yarmouth sands on an off-fair- 
day, at the end of the first season with the wax- 
works, my uncle's attention was drawn particularly 
to a strong, stumpy young fellow with the donkeys, 
who was entertaining a little group of his own 
people with a bit of fun he had just discovered 
or made up. This fellow was known on the sands 

58 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



DUCK 

by the name of Duck. When Joe sidled up to 
join the group, Duck asked the other lads to stand 
in a ring, to make room for a gentleman. The 
lads fell back a little to make room for Joe. He 
told them the gentleman had no doubt come 
to hear him whistle. With this he sat his back 
against a post and, putting a penny-whistle in his 
mouth, whistled sharply and clearly a verse of 
"Shivery Shakey," a popular song of the time. 
He told Joe there was no charge for the per- 
formance, but that if he liked to stand a quart 
of beer, the thirsty lads standing round them would 
like to join him in drinking his health. Joe had 
made up his mind that this fellow was the kind 
of man he wanted, if he could get hold of him, so he 
very graciously handed him the fourpence for the 
beer. For this compliment Duck requested that 
they would "give a jolly good cheer to the old 
'un's white hat." 

As Duck was finally engaged, and remained 
afterwards for many years in Joe Smith's show, 
it may be as well to give a description of him. 
Duck was brought up from his babyhood with 
donkeys ; quite possibly he was born in a stable ; 
at anyrate, at this time, he slept in one with the 
donkeys. His father was an old-established 
Yarmouth donkey-man. It was possibly from 
riding a donkey from the age of two, as I have 
heard he did, his legs were bowed from holding on 

59 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

the animal. They were very much bowed now, and 
from his waddle, that he may have called a walk, 
he no doubt got the name of " Duck." He had 
another name, but this I never heard but once in 
after years, in connection with an event that I will 




relate farther on. Duck's work with his father 
was during the summer time only. In the winter 
he was glad to get a job anywhere. At the time, I 
am now speaking of, winter was approaching. 

Although Duck in the season spent all his time 
with the donkey, his mind rose far above his 
occupation — in fact he detested it. He had fully 
60 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



DUCK 

made up his mind to throw it up as soon as he 
got a chance. He had a fixed ambition, which 
was to join a nigger troupe and play on some 
musical instrument. His taste ran to the banjo. 
The odd money he picked up in the summer time 
would never go to the price of a banjo, and his 
father, who wanted his services, would not help 
him. The best consolation he could find was 
playing on a penny-whistle, which he thought 
would form practice for his hoped-for profession. 
His playing on the whistle in the instance I have 
mentioned charmed the old 'un, who, I should say, 
was not very musical. Joe thought if he could 
by any means get Duck into his service, his 
musical talent would be of great help to him. 
Duck might play the whistles (that is the mouth- 
organ), beat the drum, and take care of the horse, 
besides other useful work. Joe had not yet 
acquired a drum, but he was sure having one 
might be the making of his show. 

The old 'un, after his first acquaintance in the 
incident with the beer, saw Duck sitting on a rail 
the following dinner-time. He went up to him 
to trot him out upon the chance of his entering 
into his employ. He told Duck that the penny 
whistle was not good enough to show off his 
talent This Duck fully recognised. He asked 
him if he thought he could manage the mouth- 
organ and drum, for if he could do this, and take 

6i 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

care of a horse, with a few other odd jobs, he 
could take him on next spring for constant 
employment, and give him good wages. 

Duck dropped into this in a minute, and said he 
should like to try it if he got a chance. He said, 
"It 'ill be like *evan and earth both mixed up 
together, guv'nor. 'Cos when IVe done up the 
hanimal, and cleaned up a bit, I suppose I might 
enjoy the rest of my life in playin' the whistles 
and beatin' the drum outside the show. Fine ! " 

The old 'an said he did not know much about 
heaven, so long as he suited him in the earthly 
business. 

"Don't you?" said Duck. "Why, I do. Old 
Patcham, the cobbler, who puts on an old black 
coat, and is the Re-ver-end Mr. Patcham on the 
sands on Sundays, says, "When little boys goes 
to 'evan they will all blow their own trumpets — 
perhaps like he does — so music must be 'evanly." 

The old 'un next day searched the shops in the 
town, and bought a mouth-organ, which he lent 
to Duck to try what he could do upon it. Bless 
your body! he had wonderful talent, he had. 
He could play the whistles in three days, just as 
though he had been brought up to them from a 
baby. 

The drum was soon added, and the old 'un, 
after subsidising Duck's earning for the winter 
by half a crown a week, for his time for practising, 
62 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



DUCK 

took him into the show at ten shillings a week 
for the season, for which he was to mind the 
horse, play the music, and help generally. This 
was a rather good lift for a lad of sixteen. It 
answered the old 'un's purpose well also, you 
may depend on that, or he would not have 
taken him on. 

I cannot say Duck entirely realised the old 'un's 
expectations. The fact was, he was too fond of 
music. After a year or two, when the show was 
closed at some fairs by ten o'clock at night, and 
the dancing-booth was just getting full, they were 
glad of Duck to help the fiddler with his whistles. 
The old 'un was annoyed at this, as he considered 
he employed him entirely. He used to remon- 
strate, but Duck only chaffed him and said — 

"That is unkind. When the fun comes on, 
with the nice horse-play and shoutin' of the men 
and gals, you cannot hear the poor fiddler, but 
a good sharp squeak from my whistles keeps the 
dance a-going." Duck bought his own whistles, 
that the old 'un should not interfere with him. 
He sometimes, after a few years, got the old 'un 
to lend him the drum, which experience proved 
was the best thing to do when asked ; for if Duck 
got the sulks, which was not uncommon, he would 
then abuse the old 'un, and call him " a greedy old 
block of pork," and at such times there was very 
dull music for the show. He reminded the old 

63 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

'un pretty often that if he felt tired of him he could 
just give him his billet. Two of our showmen, 
whose names he would not mention, had offered 
him the same job he now held at more money. 
This kept the old 'un more civil to Duck than to 
anyone else that I have known. 



64 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CHAPTER VI 



MRS. SMITH 




Y aunt, Mrs. Joe Smith, was a 
little woman. She had dark 
brown eyes and hair, a slightly 
Roman nose, a pretty mouth 
with nice teeth. She was 
generally considered good- 
looking, but to me, who 
loved her much, she was beautiful. Her slender 
figure was erect, although she inclined her head 
forward a little. She dressed very simply and 
neatly, without any kind of ornament on her 
dress. She always wore a woollen shawl crossed 
over her chest, as it was a little weak. Her 
voice was clear and soft, and was used pretty 
constantly. In truth, the dear soul seldom 
stopped talking, for if she had no one present 
she would murmur in an undertone to herself 

My aunt, in her home, and in the lean-to of 
our tent at the fair, was the soul of neatness 
E 65 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

and cleanliness. In this respect she formed a 
contrast with all our fair- folk. She therefore 
appeared amongst us as a superior person. Her 
education was also very exceptional for our class. 
I was very curious to know how it was that she 
came to marry my uncle, who appeared to me 
in every way so different from herself One 
evening, in the winter time, when we were sitting 
up waiting for the old 'un to return from the Blue 
Lion, .where he was spending the evening, she 
told me all about her meeting and engagement 
with her husband^ which was about a year before 
I was born. 

/ My uncle was doing very well in the wax-line, 
but he had saved nothing. He had been looking 
out for a good while for a wife that he hoped 
might help him in his business. He had many 
offers, for offers among our class are as frequently 
made by the woman as the man. The fair-people 
appeared to be anxious to fix the waxy 'un among 
their friends, as he was fairly prosperous. Some 
very fine girls were suggested, but he CQuId not 
take to them. He had his ideal, which he waited 
for; this was the chance of marrying a dressmaker, 
who could dress and mend his figures. He did not 
forget to make this known, not only to the fair- 
folk, but as far as he was abje in every place 
where he set up his show. In this, as in other 
things, he always took the matter in a business way. 

66 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



MRS. SMITH 

He failed always to produce an impression upon 
the desirable ladies. He therefore told the show- 
folk he would remain single. The fact was, the 
girls of respectable parents, who could afford 
their grown-up daughters to lose the necessary 
time to learn dressmaking, looked higher for 
matrimonial engagements than those of show- 
men, whom they fancied must necessarily be loose 
sort of fellows. There was one thing, however, 
about Joe, he was always polite to the softer sex. 
He was a little fond of fighting, but otherwise he 
bore a respectable name, particularly as regards 
honesty, in all the towns his show visited. 

It was an off-day at Hartley- Marsh after the 
fair, and Joe, seeing many of his figures in rags 
from accidents in travelling and otherwise, he set to 
work with the needle to repair them, as he had often 
done before. His fingers were a bit clumsy, and 
pushing the needle made them tender, so he soon 
got very fagged with the job. 

On the particular day I mention an idea struck 
Joe, which he thought might possibly turn out 
pretty well for his supreme ambition of getting a 
suitable wife. In entering the town he particu- 
larly noticed a large brass plate with "Miss 
Togelly, Dressmaker," inscribed upon it He 
th4)ught Miss Togelly might be an unapproachable 
person, but he found out that she employed some 
.J^ung women who might be less so. He there- 

67 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

fore decided to call on that lady, tell her all his 
troubles that he had with the repairs of his dresses, 
and to ask her if she could send anyone to help 
him, for which he said he was willing to pay 
something handsome. She said, as he expected, 
that she could not see to it herself, but, as she was 
not very busy, she would let two of her girls do 
what repairs he wanted, if they could do it 
together in three or four hours in the day-time. 
This he agreed would be of great help to him. The 
price was fixed at the very moderate sum of half a 
crown for the time, which he paid down in advance. 

The two young ladies came laughing to the 
tent, as though they were very pleased with the 
job, Joe received them very politely, and took 
them round the show before he set them to 
work, which pleased them greatly. They soon fell 
into fits of giggling when they found the figures 
had nothing on in particular under their dresses. 

Joe attended to the work he wanted done, got 
them needles and coloured thread, scissors, and 
everything they called for. He then said he 
would leave them for a time. He soon returned, 
however, bringing with him some ginger-beer and 
some tarts, which he set before them to take 
at their pleasure, so that they might not be dull. 
This made them chatty. One of them, the 
younger and most talkative one, said, after some 
little bits of playful chaff, that it was fair-day at 

6S 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MRS. SMITH 

Bartley Hill, where she lived at present with her 
aunt, which was only two miles from the town. 
Joe asked at what time she left her work, and 
foiind this would be at seven o'clock. He 
asked her if he might walk home with her to 
see the fair for company, like, as he had nothing 
particular to do for the rest of the day. This, she 
told him, she would rather that he should not do. 

At this point the older girl said the younger 
talked too much ; that she was quite disgusted 
with her. This might be through Joe paying such 
particular attention to the younger, of which she 
felt jealous, although the elder had not personally 
noticed Joe very much. She turned sulky, and 
did not speak again for the rest of the time they 
were at work together. 

Afterwards, when the younger girl was at her 
work, and Joe had been watching her admiringly 
from the most distant part of the tent, fearing to 
approach as he saw the elder girl was displeased, 
he felt quite sure he had seen the younger girl 
before somewhere. He also felt sure that she 
knew he was watching her, for she gave a glance 
through the corner of her eyes, as much as to say 
that she did not share the elder girl's sulks. This 
gave him a little encouragement He made up his 
mind that he would meet her on her way home when 
she was quite clear of the town and speak to her. 

When the girls had finished the work, Joe 

69 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

thought it would be a gracious sort of thing to 
offer them a shilling each, by way of acknowledg- 
ment, when thanking them for what they had 
done. This they both refused. They were bidding 




him good-bye, when he remembered distinctly 
something of the younger girl's family. 

He said, " I have been trying to remember your 
face. Now I know you are a Santon." 

The girl was struck. He then said, "Your 
family live at Bayley." She said it was so, but 

70 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MRS. SMITH 

she did not know him. He said, " I can remem- 
ber your mother." The girl turned quite pale] and 
tears came into her eyes. He said Tie knew her 
from the likeness. Her mother had died about two 
years before this. The girl's native village was only 
three miles from Stockbottom, Joe's own village. 
Joe would have known the girl very well, as 
country people do their neighbours, only that he 
was never at home except in the winter, when 
country folk do not go about much. 

Lucy Santon, for that was the younger girl's 
name, said she was living with her aiint, her 
father's sister, to learn dressmaking off Miss 
Togelly ; and that her father had come over to 
see her and her aunt, being their fair-time. Joe 
said, " I hope I may see you again." She replied, 
she should return home to Bayley in a month. 

Joe at this time was a fine, healthy fellow of 
about thirty — not fat, as I afterwards knew him. 
In a certain way he might be called a rough- 
looking fellow, but his health and evident strength 
gave him a manly look, not unattractive to a girl 
nearly in his own position. 

By Joe's slight acquaintance he speculated that 
he might get a chance of a friendly chat with Lucy 
as she went home. He posted himself before seven 
o'clock at the stile he knew she must cross on her 
way home. At about a quarter past seven she 
came along ; she started back when she saw Joe, 

71 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

and said she would go back to Miss Togelly and 
get someone she knew to accompany her home. 
She told him it was very mean of him to meet her 
alone. She really had some fear of him. Joe 
took an oath that he would not harm her nor 
really touch her until she reached her home. In 
this he kept his word. As they walked along 
he slunk up to her side, but left a good space 
between them. He then said to her, " You might 
hear something I want to say ? " 

" I would rather you should leave me," she 
replied; "but I suppose you will say what you 
like." 

" I have taken a great liking to you. You are 
just the sort of girl I should like for a wife." 

" Go back to Stanton-Marsh," she replied, " and 
don't be silly. If you like me I hate you, because 
you will not leave me alone. My aunt will be 
awfully cross with me about you following me, as 
she will think I have given you some encourage- 
ment; and father will perhaps give you a good 
whacking for it." 

This matter of a whacking would have been 
more difficult than she seemed to think, but she 
was not beyond the age when a girl thinks her 
own father the most powerful man. 

"You might be a little kinder, I think," Joe 
suggested. 

" I am not quite seventeen," she answered, " and 
72 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MRS. SMITH 

I am not out of my time with Miss Togelly, so 
that I do not want a sweetheart, even if you 
would do for me." 

" I will walk behind you," Joe said, *'to see where 
you live. I mean to dance at your fair to-night, 
and if you would like me for a partner for a dance, 
I shall wait there ready and be very pleased. If 
we cannot be lovers we may be friends." 

Lucy looked away from Joe, and said no more 
till she got home. As she entered the house she 
looked back at him for a moment. This in some 
way made him think he was encouraged. Although 
she had rebuked him as they walked along to the 
village, he did not think it was in so angry a 
manner as her words might infer. This was no 
doubt partly due to the natural softness of her 
voice. 

As soon as Lucy had mentioned her village fair 
being on in the evening, Joe had determined he 
would go to the dance on the speculation of getting a 
talk with her. He had his boots fresh hobnailed in 
the afternoon, as was customary with young men 
in his station preparing for a dance. His object 
in this was that his boots should sound up well in 
the double-shuffle in which he hoped to show off 
before Lucy. 

The village where Lucy lived with her aunt was 
a very small one. The annual fair consisted only 
of two stalls — one for toys and one for sweets. 

73 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

The great event for the young men and women at 
the fair-time was the dance in the club-room of the 
Angel Inn. This title of inn was indicated by a 
written signboard. It was really a beer-house, 
without licence to sell wines or spirits, or with any 
accommodation for travellers. 

When Lucy got home she found her father and 
her aunt talking together. She told them of Joe 
Smith, for his name was well known, following her ; 
that she had tried to drive him back, but he would 
follow her; that she would have gone back to 
Miss Togelly, only that he swore with a dreadful 
oath he would not touch her, and that he had 
kept his word. 

She was just a little surprised to find that her 
aunt and her father knew all about what she had 
been doing in the afternoon, although, of course, 
two miles is a very short distance for any event of 
the slightest interest to get about the country in 
three hours. 

Carty, as he was called, the wheelwright's man, 
who had been busy with repairs among the show 
vans, had seen the two girls enter Joe Smith's 
booth, and had duly reported this to Miss Santori, 
Lucy's aunt, when he returned from his work 
to their village, where he lived. Further, 
Mrs. Sarridge, another neighbour, had heard it 
herself from Miss Togelly in the town. Santon, 
her father, felt interested, and made inquiries of 

74 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MRS. SMITH 

Carty what sort of fellow Joe Smith was con- 
sidered to be by the fair-people, for Lucy's safety 
He found out from him that Joe might be a little 
too fond of a stand-up fight, but that he was con- 
sidered a decent sort of fellow all round, and that 
he was pretty rich, as the whole waxwork show, 
tent and van and horses, were all his property. 

Santon, who otherwise knew him pretty well at 
home in his native village, where he spent the 
winter, knew him to be a sober, hard-working 
fellow, although said to be rather rough, so that 
he did not fear his daughter .being in his tent. 

The fact was that Santon, who was a riespectable 
journeyman carpenter, earning eighteen shillings a 
week, had two daughters. Nanny, the younger 
one, was now a big girl of fourteen. He was 
beginning to think that Lucy would be one too 
many at home for his means unless he deprived 
himself of some of his little luxuries, siich as a 
pipe and a pint at the village inn of an evening, 
which he had of late become accustomed to. 
Further, Lucy's uncle, his late wife's brother, who 
had paid for Lucy's education and her apprentice- 
ship to dressmaking, had, he thought, lifted her 
ideas a little above her station, in which in the 
ordinary way she would have been quite satisfied 
by going into service with a local farmer or trades- 
man. These things all passing through Santon's 
mind, to Lucy's great surprise her father did not 

75 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



< 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

appear in any way vexed at Joe Smith's attention 
to her. 

" From what I have heard and know of Joe 
Smith," he said, ** he is a fine fellow, and I cannot 
see why you should object to his company to see 
you home." 

Her aunt, who had a very strong suspicion that 
fair -folk in general were no better than they 
should be, struck in, " We ought to know a great 
deal more of Joe Smith than Lucy does before we 
give him any encouragement. A rough fellow will 
never do for our Lucy." 

There was a great deal of sense in her aunt's 
observation, for Lucy was really a very sensitive, 
mild, timid girl. At the same time, her inner 
feelings were now excited. She rebuked Joe for 
his attention to her, it is true, but there is no doubt 
her voice betrayed the fact that it was not un- 
pleasant to her ; her natural gentle manner under 
no circumstances would tend to drive away an 
ardent young man who had taken a fancy to her. 
Further, being shy by nature and somewhat 
childish-looking, she had never before received any 
marked attention from a young man, and there is 
no doubt the first touch of it was sweet. 

The anomalies we meet with in wedded life have 
fixed upon our minds the certainty that love is 
really blind. Discordance appears rather to be 
the rule than the exception. Perhaps love 

76 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MRS. SMITH 

affinities are like chemical affinities, strongest 
between opposite qualities. In love we find the 
strong attracted to the weak, the tall to the short, 
the stout to the thin, the gentle to the masterful, 
the clever to the simple, the handsome to the 
ugly (except, of course, in novels, where the pretty 
all get together), and so we run on ; but the general 
effect is that the children of our race differ little 
from century to century, physically or morally, so 
that we may assume there is a hidden purpose in 
these things. 

In the case before us the powerful Joe was 
bodily quite the ideal man of Lucy's fancy. In 
the same manner Joe had a special predilection 
for little women, of which Lucy was his exact 
personification. 

When all circumstances connected with the. 
meeting of Joe and Lucy had been duly con- 
sidered and discussed, the matter ended with both 
father and aunt giving their consent for Lucy to 
go to the dance at the Angel. She was to be 
accompanied by her father, as Joe was still looked 
upon suspiciously as a rather dangerous fellow. 

Joe, as we know, had received little encourage- 
ment to feed his ardent flame ; but, as he had made 
up his mind that Lucy was his perfect ideal for a 
wife, he resolved to try all in his power to get her. 
For this he revolved all possible schemes in his 
mind, including even the desperate one of carrying 

77 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

her off bodily and taking the coriiequences after- 
wards, if all other means should fail. 

To the dandng-room of the Angel, Joe repaired 
shortly after seeing Lucy into her house. There 
he sat near the doorway turning over all possible 
schemes of conquest, quite regardless of the mirth 
and frolic around him. He was unmoved by the 
wilas and smiling entreaties on the village girls' 
faces, who would have liked to dance with the 
stranger. He sat out the first two dances, feeling 
miserably melancholy, looking always towards the 
door to see if Lucy should possibly enter, and 
hoping that, if she did, she would give him the 
chance of a dance with her, which he so much desired 

At about half-past eight Lucy and her father 
came into the dancing-room. She did riot enter 
laughing, as the other girls had, but appeared sad, 
and looked down, so that the young men said she 
looked a bit glumpy. What was the matter ? She 
had no sooner entered than Joe rushed up to her 
like a bull, caught hold of her hand tightly,, and 
asked her if she would dance the next dance with 
him. She said she would if he would let go her 
hand, and not be so rough, as it hurt her, which 
was truly the case. 

In the next dance the young men had the open- 
ing for the double-shuffle, and it is almost unneces- 
sary to say that Joe, fired with the strong passion 
of love, did his very best. This had the effect of 

78 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



MRS. SMITH 

making the entire floor vibrate with his heavy 
boots, which came down upon the floor with all 
the muscular power of his sturdy limbs. It 
brought a general clap- 
ping round from the 
ladies assembled, in ac- 
knowledgment of his 
perfect accomplishment. 

After the dance, when 
the fiddler came round, 
Joe put sixpence into 
the plate, a most unusual 
proceeding, a penny 
being the fixed sum. 
This was further parti- 
cularly strange in Joe, 
who had not been fre- 
quently known to waste 
a penny. After this he 
led Lucy somewhat 
tightly by the arm to 
the end of the room 
where there were a row 
of forms set for the dancers and visitors. These 
were occupied usually by elderly persons, who 
were pleased to look on and see all fair and 
drink beer. Among the visitors Lucy's father 
was seated talking to a neighbour. 

Joe took quite the corner seat, finding this 
79 




Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

vacant He placed Lucy next the wall. He put 
his arm across her shoulders and pulled her to- 
wards his chest with such force that she was 
obliged to call out. She told him, " You are too 
rough to touch a girl." 

This fact was pretty manifest the next morning 
when Lucy showed her aunt the marks of his 
fingers by the slight bruises he made upon the top 
of her arm. 

Her aunt said, "You ought not to encourage 
him ; he is too rough for you." 

Joe was not a man of many words. When he 
had got Lucy in the corner he told her in a pretty 
loud whisper, " I have taken an awful fancy to 
you, Lucy; you must be my wife. I want a 
wife to take care of me and my show very 
bad." 

Lucy replied, "If you want me, at best you 
may have a long time to wait, as at present I 
know next to nothing of you." 

He said presently, " I do not care for any more 
dancing." 

" I do," Lucy replied, " because I came on pur- 
pose. If you do not care to dance, George, sitting 
out there, will be pretty sharp to dance with me." 

Although she said this, I cannot say she was 
quite sure about George. 

" To make things agreeable," Joe said, " I should 
like another dance with you then." 

80 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MRS. SMITH 

To this Lucy consented, if he would not be 
rough with her. 

After the dance Joe tried to get her to take a 
walk outside into the air, as the room was very 
stuffy. To this she would not consent. He then 
asked her to let him go home with her to chat with 
her father and aunt. 

" My father has left the room," she replied ; " I 
expect, being fair-time, he will now be chatting in 
the tap with his friends." 

"I will go and find him, if you will promise 
me you will not dance with anyone till I 
return." 

" All right, I will promise to please you ; but I 
think you are much too particular." 

Santon was found in the tap. Joe told him he 
wanted to speak with him privately about his 
Lucy. He said, " I shall be at home at her aunt's 
house in half an hour, and shall be pleased to hear 
what you have to say." 

When Joe returned to the club-room he told 
Lucy her father wanted to talk to them both 
together at her home, not mentioning the time. 
To which Lucy replied, at the same time taking 
her bonnet from a peg on the wall where it hung, 
" I suppose then we had better go at once." 

This was just what Joe wanted, as he thought 
he could then get a chance for a quiet talk 
with her. 

F 8i 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

When they got out of the inn into the dark, he 
told her her father had promised he would be at 
home in half an hour, so that they had time to 
take a short walk together. He would have led 
her in the opposite direction to her home out of 
the village, but to this she objected. He then 
repeated the proposal he had made in the corner 
of the room, of his desire to make her his wife, and 
asked her to say at once yes or no. 

She replied, ** I have only seen you one day, and 
you have been very rough with me. I will not 
quite say no; I will think it over, and tell you 
after I have seen more of you whether I can love 
you or not, as I cannot marry you unless I do." 

This really partly disguised her true thoughts. 
From reasons she could not tell she felt herself 
already within his power. 

Joe tried in his rough, natural way to fondle her. 
She told him this showed he had no real respect 
for her, and if that was his way she should have 
nothing more to do with him. Afterwards he 
acted more quietly with her, until they heard the 
father coming, when they all three entered the 
aunt's cottage together. 

Joe told Santon at once, " I feel sure that Lucy 
will make up her mind to have me for her husband 
by to-morrow morning, when I must start for 
Endley Fair.'' 

Lucy could only say, " No, no ! Wait." 
82 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



MRS. SMITH 

She put up her hands to hide her face, and 
leaned down in tears over the table. Really, the 
whole affair was so sudden that she had no feeling 
we can describe as love for him. She felt only 
that she was in some way charmed by him and 
had drifted entirely within his power, so that she 
did not feel mental strength enough to resist his 
present entreaties. 

At this point Santon helped Joe. He told 
Lucy that Joe was a fine honest fellow ; that it 
was really a good chance for her ; and he was sure 
Joe loved her, or he would not follow her and plead 
to her as he had done. 

Lucy said no more. She turned pale, and 
listened. She let matters drift as Santon and 
Joe pleased to arrange them, feeling she had no 
power to offer serious opposition. 

It was finally arranged for her that the banns 
should be published the following Sunday, for 
which Joe gave Santon three shillings for the 
expenses, which, he said, " sealed the bargain." 

Joe put his arm round Lucy as she was sitting 
with her hands over her eyes crying. She flinched 
a little from his grasp. He said, "It will be all 
right, dear. Is there anything I can do for you ? " 
She replied, "Yes, give me a little more 
time." 

Joe said, " I am sorry I cannot, I feel too much 
love for you." 

83 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

He tried to kiss her lips, but she would only 
allow him to kiss her forehead. 

It was finally arranged that they should be 
married from Lucy's home at Bayley in six weeks' 
time, when the' fairs would be over. Joe said he 
would send word to her of the times and places of all 
the following fairs, so that if she should make up her 
mind to come direct to him before the six weeks 
were up he should be pleased to have her near 
him, or he would fetch her if she liked at any time. 
In this he meant nothing that was not honourable, 
his purpose being marriage. She would have been 
as safe with certain of his friends among the show- 
people, to whom he would have led her, as in the 
home of some of the most respectable of black-coats. 

Lucy told him she meant to wait at home all 
the time, whether he came to see her or not. 

After an embrace, very warm on Joe's part, he 
started homeward in high glee, having done, what 
he thought very sensibly, the best day's work he had 
ever done in his life — he had obtained the certainty 
of a good wife. He had not gone far from the 
cottage before he thought he would return to see 
the light of the candle go out in her room when 
she went to bed. He hesitated a little whether he 
should make some sign to let her know he was 
still there watching her, just to hear her voice again. 
On second thoughts he tore himself away and 
returned to Bartley-Marsh. 

84 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



MRS. SMITH 

Love with some people, particularly the interested 
love some may think that Joe felt, is a cool sort of 
thing, that niay go on driddling away for a year 
or more very comfortably without any particular 
emotion on either side. With Joe it was a red-hot 
passion. He got home to the part of the tent that 
was left standing, just to sleep in, at past eleven 
o'clock at night. He did not care to undress him- 
self, but threw himself on the mattress that he 




unrolled from one corner of the tent. He found 
this felt too hot for him. He got up and stood at 
the opening of the tent for a hour or so in his shirt- 
sleeves, then, feeling a little chilly, he had another 
turn at the mattress. He laid and kicked about, 
but could not sleep. At nearly five o'clock he 
caught a glimpse of dawn, so he got up at once, 
walked straight down to the river at the foot of the 
town, undressedj and took half an hour's swim, 
until he got thoroughly cool and exhausted. He 

8s 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

then dressed and returned to his tent. He thought 
he would run up to Hartley Hill to get a glimpse 
of Lucy if possible before he left. On second 
thoughts, he felt sure if he saw her he could not 
resist attempting to carry her off, if he got the 
chance. He therefore woke up his carman and 
started for Endley Fair quite an hour earlier than 
was necessary, to make sure he should control his 
passion, at the same time savagely hoping that the 
six weeks' suspense would pass quickly till his 
wedding-day. 

The banns were legally published and the 
wedding-day came in due course, as all days do. 
Fair-time was over. He took his wife, Lucy, home 
to his cottage in his native village, where they 
lived comfortably until the next fair- time. This 
commenced with Barnet Spring Fair, early in 
April, which has now become obsolete. They both 
started for the round of the country fairs for the 
season. 

During the winter season, which had just passed, 
Joe, being a passable carpenter, more by instinct 
than by learning, was busy repairing his show. He 
also did jobbing work about the village for his 
neighbours. He bought canvas, and Mrs. Smith 
made a sort of lean-to tent, to be attached to his 
large tent for a sleeping apartment in fair-time. 
He also bought a donkey and a donkey-cart to 
carry the tents and the rough apparatus, so that 

86 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



MRS. SMITH 

he could find spare room for his wife in the van 
when they were travelling by night. Afterwards, 
when a baby came to town, the donkey-cart was 
changed for a large covered cart, with a strong 
horse to carry many of the show things, and leave 
more comfortable room in the van for sleeping 
through the fair-season. 



87 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CHAPTER VII 



BILL SMITH 



T was a very sharp winter when 
I can first remember anything 
at all. I had very bad chil- 
blains and very little to eat. 
My father was out of work, 
because the ground was frozen 
and all covered with snow. 
We were nearly starved because 
he did not care to snare rab- 
bits or hares, as he had three 
months in jail for it the last 
winter, and that during the 
time he was in prison my little sister, his pet girl, 
was starved to death. Another reason was, the snow 
on the ground would have shown his footprints. 

My mother at this time had only three or four 
days* work a week in the town at washing or char- 
ing, at a shilling a day. This money was spent in 
bread, then at tenpence a loaf, which my father ate 

88 




Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BILL SMITH 

nearly all himself. Mother got an extra snack in the 
town from the people she worked for through the 
early part of the winter. In midwinter, the times 
being very hard, a committee was formed of the 
ladies and gents in the town, who decided, that 
it was a wrong thing to give charwomen any 
surplus bits of food, which the committee could 
make use of for the poor townspeople, particularly 
as this only encouraged their husbands to remain 
at home in idleness. Many good people followed 
this advice, so that we then got very little broken 
food at home. After this, mother fell sick with the 
poor fever, which father also caught, and they both 
died within a week of each other. 

I may say of myself that I was the first-born. 
Mother had three others afterwards, who were 
starved out in the usual way of labourers* children. 
I lived on to the last with them, because I got more 
victuals than my parents did. I used to get out of 
a night and steal turnips, which I ate raw. I got 
some nuts in the woods by day, or found a squirrel's 
nest of them sometimes. The neighbours used to 
give me sorne cold potatoes, and my aunt gave me 
some hot buttermilk, with a crust of bread in it, 
in the morning, as she knew my father was out of 
work. This she dared not let my uncle Joe know, 
as he had quarrelled with my father, and he said 
he might starve. 

My parents were buried by the parish. I was to 
89 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

go into the workhouse, but my aunt, who had 
then her second baby, and found the baby and her 
little boy took a great part of her time to attend 
to, said I could be brought up very useful in the 
show. I could mind the baby, carry things back- 
wards and forwards to and from the van when they 
were packing or unpacking, which she found too 
much for her to do. I should also be useful to go 
errands, or get change, or go about to get water to 
drink and cook with, which was often a great trouble 
with us at fair-times. Joe said I was only seven, 
which was too young for a year or two, to be of 
any use to him. I was not to go to the workhouse, 
at my aunt's entreaty, till after my father's funeral. 
I went to my uncle's cottage for two days to wait 
for this. Although I was very young, I was soon 
set to work to clean things up and to hand up 
tools, nails, and pieces of wood to my uncle, who 
was at the time building a cottage on a piece of 
land he had bought. He had become, at this time, 
rather bulky, and he found it a little difficult to 
stoop often and get up and down a ladder for the 
things he wanted for his cottage work. 

The second day I was with him he told my aunt 
that I was not a bad little chap, and he thought he 
might keep me. I fancy also from what I heard 
afterwards that he felt a little sorry that he had let 
my father, his own brother, with whom he had had 
a quarrel, die of want, when he could easily have 

90 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BILL SMITH 

helped him, and he thought taking me would ease 
his conscience. At anyrate, as I was in rags and 
bootless, he bought me a new smock-frock, cor- 
duroy trousers, and new boots, two sizes too large, 
as my chilblains were bad. My aunt sewed me a 
piece of black crape on my arm, made me two 
blue shirts, and then two pairs of stockings, out of 
legs of some my uncle had worn out, until she had 
time to knit me some. She tied my feet up in 
rags dipped in turpentine, and they soon got well. 
I helped about six weeks at home before we 
started for the fairs. 

I soon found out that my uncle would be very 
sharp with me. I was not allowed to say a word, 
but had to do what he told me to do at once, or he 
would throw anything at hand at my legs. I was 
used to this kind of treatment, as my father used 
to whack me with an ash stick if I hesitated a 
minute in what he told me to do. My uncle used 
more generally to cuff me with his heavy hands, 
which fell like hammers upon me. I used to get 
kind words from my aunt to console me, who was 
a woman quite different from all our class. 

One day, about a week after I had been with my 
uncle at work on his cottage, he seemed rather 
pleased that we had got on with the work faster 
than he thought we could. My aunt had sug- 
gested in the week that she thought I might have 
a bit of supper with them, if I paid attention to my 

91 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

work. I had had bread and hot buttermilk and 
sometimes a bit of bread and cheese up to this 
time for my meals. I had not tasted meat since 
my father got in jail for poaching. The old 'un 
told me in the day I should have supper with him 
that night as a sort of experiment, to try if it would 
make me a little sharper with my work. I do 
not think really he had any reason to complain, 
as I was trying hard to do my best. 

I will describe the supper, as it will show in 
a general way what sort of man my uncle was 
with my aunt, although this is only a very common 
way with our sort of people. 

After it was too dark to work we entered the 
house, as we term the first room of a cottage, 
which was clean and in perfect order. There was 
a good log fire burning on the hearth, and a pot 
on the hanger over it. The old *un's carpet slippers 
were placed wrong side up by the side of the 
hearth, to get them warm. The table was scrubbed 
white and laid out with one large blue-edged plate 
and two small ones, with three knives and forks ; 
there was also a spoon near the big plate. A Ipaf 
on a wooden tray was placed near the middle 
of the table. A Windsor chair with arms was 
placed on the side next the large plate. There 
was an Irish stew in the pot, which smelt very 
nice, particularly to me who expected to have 
some. The old 'un sat down in the chair and held 

92 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BILL SMITH 

up his muddy boots one after the other. My aunt 
kneeled down and pulled them off, putting his 
slippers on in their place. I noticed my aunt's 
hands were very small, although quite horny with 
hard work. The old 'un gave a growl over some- 




thing that had offended him during the day, and 
said nothing more. 

After the slippers were on, my aunt set the large 
plate on the hearth and poured out a little more 
than half the stew into it. She then took the spoon 
and took out all the pieces of meat that remained 

93 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

in the pot, an operation the old 'un watched 
very closely. The plate with the stew was then 
set before him, my aunt cut him a small piece 
of bread and two larger pieces for me and herself. 
My uncle set to work eating the stew, and we 
nibbled at our pieces of bread, my aunt chatting 
to him at the same time about the gossip of the 
village that she thought would amuse him. When 
he had eaten all the stew he cared for, which com- 
prised about two-thirds of the meat, picking out all 
the best pieces, he told my aunt he was done, she 
and Bill might have all the rest. This my aunt 
took and divided, giving me the most She then 
poured out the small quantity of gravy and 
potatoes and onions that were left in the pot be- 
tween us ; my uncle in the meantime had a bottle 
containing a pint of beer, and a small mug, and 
his pipe put before him. I did not get much meat, 
as there was little left except fat by the old 'un, 
but it was altogether the greatest treat I had had 
for more than a year. This was our usual way at 
home, but in fair-times the old *un cut off about 
a third of the meat, of the part he thought the most 
inferior, to be divided between my aunt and myself, 
before he commenced. This was done to save 
time over our dinner, which, for business reasons, 
was often very much hurried. 

When we started for the fairs, it was arranged 
that I should sleep in the show. I had a small 

94 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BILL SMITH 

mattress wjiich was placed on some boards on 
the floor at night. This was rolled up by day 
and put behind one of the figures. I had a pair 
of small sheets and a horse-cloth cover, which, 
as far as the bed was concerned, was very com- 
fortable. 

I look back even now with a shudder to think 
of my first night in the show, and of many 
following nights. I knew perfectly well that the 
figures were all made tip, but when I saw their 
faces gleam in the moonlight which came through 
the tent, just sufficient for me to see them, they all 
looked to be living and staring directly at me. 
I felt sure they were living ghosts. The distant 
howling of the dogs about the fair made me think 
they were groaning. I shut my eyes while I 
undressed, because I dared not look towards them. 
When I got into bed the first night, I trembled 
dreadfully, and groaned quite unintentionally. 
My aunt thought I was ill. She came out to me 
and saw by my trembling that it was only fright. 
She made me get up and go round and touch all 
the faces of the figures, to assure me they were 
only wax. She told me I must now go to sleep, for 
if my uncle woke he would be sure to come out 
and whack me for being so silly. 

My aunt's assurance did not set my mind at 
ease. I could not help trembling in bed. I cried 
myself silently to sleep, after keeping awake 
95 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



< 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

several hours. In the morning I woke again 
frightened to see the figures still staring at me. 

It is curious now to think that I was not 
frightened so much at the horrible figures of the 
murderers or robbers in the show as the pretty 
faces in the Henry the Eighth group, of which I will 
give more particulars farther on. I could not help 
thinking that my mother was among the queens 




which were standing in this block, who appeared 
to be looking at me. My mother's face was white, 
thin, and sad, as I remembered it. These did 
not look so white, except in moonlight; still I 
thought the one we called Anny Bollen was 
really my mother's ghost at night. I thought this 
was as she looked in heaven, although by day 
she might be only waxwork. This illusion lasted 
all the first fair-season, and returned to me in a 

96 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



BILL SMITH 

less degree several seasons afterwards. Except for 
this weakness, I do not think I was cowardly. 

In the winter following my first season at the 
fair, we got into the new cottage which we had built. 
This had four rooms — house, kitchen and two 
bedrooms — and was altogether more comfortable 
than the two-roomed cottage we rented here- 
tofore. My uncle just after the fair-season bought 
another adjoining plot of land, upon which he 
intended to build two more cottages for letting, 
but he had no money to spare at this time to 
commence them. He had nothing for me to do, 
so my aunt persuaded him to send me to school 
for the winter, as she said my education might be 
useful to him if anything happened to her. Joe had 
no education himself She had in odd times, on 
off-days at the fairs, taught me to spell little words 
and read a little as often as she could find time, 
when she was only knitting. 

My uncle was a sober man ; he used to spend an 
hour at a time, two or three evenings of the week, 
at the Blue Lion tap, and drink one pint of beer 
only, at a sitting. These evenings were the happy 
ones of my life, as I could then sit and hear my 
aunt chat in her kind thoughtful way, and she 
would let me lean against her shoulder, knowing 
my love for her. 

I said to my aunt one evening that I noticed, 
although my uncle growled and swore at her a good 
G 97 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

deal, I had never known him strike her as many 
a man of his sort does his wife at times. She 
said he was very rough with her shortly after they 
were first married ; that one day he slapped her 
face so hard that it cut her cheek inside against her 
teeth, and made it swell up and bleed so that it was 
bad for several days. This was at Tedridge Fair, 
and she had to appear to take the money with her 
face tied up. For this he had to put up with 
a good deal of chaff from the fair-folk, for in some 
way my aunt was always looked up to as a very 
superior person ; she was always willing to do a 
kindness to anyone. One of the show-people told 
him he had no business to marry a lady, that he 
ought to have married a gal like Sal Grimes ; she 
would have been a better match for him. She would 
have just pushed him over on his back, and no one 
would have ever picked him up again, so that he 
would have had to die where he fell. This was in 
allusion to his fatness. Another fellow said he 
should like to hold a red-hot horse shoe between 
the waxy 'un's hands for a few minutes to pull 
them down a bit, to prevent their weight killing his 
wife next time he had a fling at her. 

Duck, our carman, who was, like everybody else, 
fond of my aunt, said he supposed he would be 
trying his. pawlers on him soon, if he found Bill 
and his missus not sufficient fighting for him. 
In which case he said he should strike him just 

98 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



BILL SMITH 

below his waist, so that he would not forget it 
while he lived. He told him, ** You are somethin* 
like Watkins with his old horse, who said a good 
whackin* made him go just as well as givin' him 
wittles. Till at last one day, after givin* him a 
whackin' instead of his dinner, he broke down with 
Watkins on his back and died off sudden, leavin' 
Watkins with a broken head, which he kept on 
rubbin' at as long as he lived. lU-usin* your old 
woman will bring you to the same sort of luck." 

I expect my aunt being very thin made him 
hint that she was not over-fed. 

Joe was very savage, and swore horribly at this 
chaff; but since he had become so fat the fair- folk 
were not afraid of him, as they used to be when he 
was younger and a good pugilist. 

He had cooled down, a few evenings after strik- 
ing my aunt, so she thought she might talk to him. 
She said she had done all she could to please him ; 
that she was not very strong and it would be an 
easy matter for him- to kill her ; that if he knocked 
her about, as well as swearing and growling at her, 
she was sure she should break down — if he could 
do without her it would not matter for herself, as 
she would as soon be out of the world as in it 
with him. It was something for him to consider, 
but she thought she might as well mention it as a 
warning. 

This was about the only way of getting at the 
99 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

old 'un — that was, through his selfishness. He had 
also found at once, that his treatment of his wife 
spread through the fair, and that my aunt was 
pointed to as his victim by many assembled round 
his show who came to see her. Duck was ia abso- 
lute sulks over the drum. I had no heart for 
touting. So that altogether very few came to his 
show, and we had two very bad days at the fair. 

Three nights after he had struck her so hard, 
finding all things against him, he made a promise 
with a desperate oath that he would never strike her 
again. My aunt told me in his favour, that if he 
gave his word to her he nearly always stuck to it, 
so that altogether after this he was not so bad as 
many rough men are. 

Things went on with the varied incidents of 
ordinary fair-life, which I shall not have space 
to mention further than I have done, until I was 
fourteen. The old 'un had completed two cottages 
in the village, which were let at five shillings a 
week each to journeymen mechanics. He had 
bought another plot of land for two other cottages 
out of his savings. He still remained very rough 
with me. I suppose it was his nature, so he could 
not help it. He had grown very fat and inactive,, 
so that I did nearly all the work in the show which 
he used formerly to help with. This included 
packing and unpacking the figures. My aunt had 
two children travelling about with her, a boy of 
IQO 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



BILLSMITH 

eight and a little girl, Lizzie, of two. I had so 
often to mind the little girl that I grew very 
attached to her, although not so much as I was 
formerly to Cissie the elder girl, who was now left 
in our village with her aunt. 



lOI 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CHAPTER VIII 



THE WAXWORK SHOW 




IS our waxworks were possibly 
the best ever known in this 
country in fairs, I may men- 
tion its contents when Joe had 
brought it to its highest state 
of perfection. 

Our central block represented 
the Queen and Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, 
the Princess Royal, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the 
baby, whose name I forget. This was a fine block, 
and was always fixed up in the best place. Our 
Queen was, as she should be, selected from the 
best of all the barber's wax figures which the old 
*un bought second-hand. Her chest was all in 
waxwork. She wore a crown, which was made by 
our village blacksmith of solid brass with some 
stamped ornaments, which screwed on, and rosettes 
of cut glass beads. It looked very fine, but I did 
not like it much, as I had to clean it up at fair- 

I02 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE WAXWORK SHOW 

times with brick dust and tallow before I had my 
breakfast, and I was generally very hungry in the 
morning. The Queen's frock, that is the front of 
it, was made out of pea-green satin. The back was 
of coloured calico. As we set her close up to the 
curtain she looked just as well as though she had 
an entire frock of satin. The back part of the 
frock, as we bought it, did to dress some other gals. 
The old 'un bought a box containing two dozen 
brooches set with stones, just like real, in Hounds- 
ditch, for four-and-sixpence. Fourteen of these 
were stuck on down her frock. She wore a purple 
sash across her chest with a tinsel star on it, and I 
am not sure, from what I have heard, that the 
Queen ever looked better herself. 

As for Prince Albert, I told you how clever the 
old 'un was. This 'ere 'ead, which was that of a 
woman, was one of the yellowest of all the busts 
he had bought at the barber's second-hand ware- 
house in the New Cut, Lambeth, and it had been 
the longest of any in the show that he had made 
up himself. It was first Mary Queen of Scots, till 
it got too yellow. It was then turned into the 
witch of Endor by putting a few smears of black 
on her face. Now the old 'un washed it up, 
warmed it and rubbed in a little powdered zinc- 
white and vermilion. This made it look nearly 
new, except that it was a little smeary. He 
bought a pair of fancy moustaches for sixpence, 
103 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 



and stuck these on, and the barber did the hair up 
short and curly, and I should think there was not 
a better Prince Albert in the wax-line at the time. 
The Prince was dressed in an old scarlet officer's 
coat, with two gilt pennies, head-side out, and some 
white glass stars the old 'un bought in Hounds- 
ditch on his manly breast. He wore buck-skin 
tights and white stockings with a blue ribbon 
garter showing quite prominently, upon which 

our painter Spill- 
man had written 
words in gold 
letters in a foreign 
language which I 
could not under- 
stand, but which he 
said were " quite 
proper." I fancied 
the words meant 
something about 
collecting Queen's 
taxes. ''Honil' I 
thought, might be 
the foreign for 
money. At any- 
rate, the words ended with ^^ pensel' as the money 
does on tax -papers and other accounts. 

The Queen's kids were dressed in nothing dif- 
ferent from other gent's boys, only that they had 
104 




Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE WAXWORK SHOW 

each a glass star on his breast. They would 
have looked very much better if their heads had 
been the proper size for their bodies. The 
Princess Royal nursed the baby in the fore- 
ground. 

I should like to say something more about the 
Queen's green frock, because it shows up the 
old 'un*s sensibility, like. He knew the Queen 
could get lots of dresses. She was not like 
common people who had to keep one going on 
until it was worn out and shabby. Therefore 
green would be sure to be the colour of one of 
her dresses. Where his taste comes in, is that he 
got this green frock, which had been worn by a 
queen in a pantomime, on purpose. He would 
have no other colour than green from among all 
the old theatrical dresses he sorted over. He said, 
"A sweet contrast makes up a fine show." I 
cannot say where he picked up these fine words, 
but I am sure he was right. He always set up a 
green figure next to a red one, as in this case the 
Queen's frock came next Prince Albert's red coat. 
If a figure had a blue dress he set it next a yellow 
one, and generally arranged his figures so that 
they looked as fancy, by contrast, as flowers in a 
garden. 

No one could doubt the taste of the old 'un in 
setting out figures, if they could have seen the 
frocks laid out ready for packing to go to the next 
105 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

fair, with the colours placed anyhow. The yellows 
looked dirty, the blues faded, and the reds nothing 
in particular, but when they were contrasted and 
set up in the show they looked dead perfect by 
oil-light. 

Another fine block was of King Henry the 
Eighth and his six queens. This we called the 
Bluff King Hal lot I have mentioned before that 
this was the group that frightened me the most 
by night when I first slept in the show. Some 
thought this was our best group, some thought the 
Queen's group. I thought the King Hal's group 
the best, as the king looked so jolly, whereas 
Prince Albert looked sad, as if he had done some- 
thing he did not want anyone to know. The old 
'un paid thirty shillings for King Hal's head alone. 
He bought it quite new. It was the finest piece 
of waxwork in our show. 

I should say here that the queens in the Bluff 
King Hal group were all very lovely, and particu- 
larly like each other, as though they were all cast 
in one mould ; except that the hair, which was 
black on four of the queens, was dressed in different 
styles. These heads the old 'un bought from 
several barbers when they were a little soiled and 
yellowish from being a long time in the shop 
windows. He gave less than half-price for them. 
They were just as good for the wax-line, when 
shown up by oil-light, as if they were quite new. 
io6 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE WAXWORK SHOW 

The dresses, which were of different periods and 
countries, were got from the second-hand theatrical 
clothes shops. They did for our show when they 
were too dirty for the stage, and with the trim- 
mings torn a bit. They came out like new, when 
my aunt had mended them up and washed and 
ironed the laundry work. 

We may infer from what I have already said that, 
with Joe Smithes keen eye for colour, he bought 
the brightest dresses he could get for a low 
price. He studied the picturesque rather than 
the historical, of which he knew nothing. He 
bought the dresses long, so that a few old shoes, 
set to peep out from under them, answered for the 
feet of all the figures. That the hairdressing 
of one of the queens in the Bluff King Hal 
group went so far back in time as the beginning 
of the eighteenth century, was due to the accident 
that he happened to be able to buy an old powdered 
head from a court hairdresser, who had exhibited 
it many years as an example of his skill in hair- 
dressing for bals masquis. 

One of the great attractions of our show was the 
mechanical block. This represented a headsman 
cutting off King Charles's head. It was originally 
a fine piece of mechanical work that had been made 
and exhibited in London. - It was very worn, dirty, 
and out of repair when the old *un bought it com- 
plete, with prison scene behind it, for four pounds 
107 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

ten. In its original state, by touching a spring 
the headsman*s axe went down, and King Charies's 
head appeared to be cut off and fell on the ground. 




By winding it up again the axe went up and the 
head sprang back in its place, so that you could 
have cut off the king's head every few minutes. 
When we had this mechanical block, through wear 
of the machinery it took us ten minutes or more to 
io8 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE WAXWORK SHOW 

get the axe back into its first position, and the 
king's head would not go back at all without re- 
placing it by hand. If we let the axe go about 
half its entire fall it went back easily to its higher 
position ; we therefore put a wooden, peg in the 
body, under the arm, which stopped the axe half 
way. The old 'un, in his description of the block, 
which he called, " Oliver Crumble cutting off King 
Charles' head," — represented to the visitors, as I 
will mention in his speech farther on, that it was 
intended that the axe should not fall all the 
distance. The old 'un never admitted a fault in 
his show-work. 

The block in the left-hand corner of the long 
side of our show, next the Queen's lot, was " Robbers 
in a cave sharing the plunder." This is what I 
call for anyone in the wax-line a convenience block ; 
for if a figure gets dirty or goes off brown or green 
(some go brown, some green, some yellow and some 
slate colour), or gets bruised or out of repair in any 
way, he will still, with sticking-plaster and touching 
up with paint or powder colour, make a very good 
robber. As for his togs, except his broad-brimmed 
hat and feathers, which are used particularly to 
distinguish a robber from any other man, almost 
any old togs will do. ' The feathers for his hat 
need not cost much, for if you look out you can 
get these cheap from an undertaker, when they are 
quite worn out and too shabby for funerals. 
109 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 



If you get figures broken a bit you can make 
the robbers kneel, and they look almost better this 
way in the show. Besides which, you can make 
the cave nearly dark, so that only the brass buttons 
on the coats, the daggers and the plunder, show up. 
At night, you can put in a lantern. 

The thing 
that fixes 
the eye of 
the specta- 
tor, which 
has always 
to be con- 
sidered in 
this s u b- 
ject, is the 
plunder. 
That is, I 
suppose,be- 
cause we 
all like 

plunder! In this particular case, the old 'un's 
plunder, being put all of a heap, took some time to 
make it out when you did see it. It varied a little 
at different times. What ^ye may take as pretty 
exact — which I should know, as I set it out — was that 
it consisted most particularly of an old pinchbeck 
watch case with a Brummagem chain, a pair of old 
candle-snuffers, a brass snuff-box, two bad half- 
no 




Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE WAXWORK SHOW 

crowns and one shilling, two gilt livery buttons^ 
which were half hidden under the half crowns, to 
look like sovereigns, one brass token of an engineer- 
ing firm, that had been used as a time ticket, two 
worn-out thimbles, and one or two metal spoons 
(when we were not using them). 

The old 'un used to put two or three pennies, to 
make the money look natural-like, as he said. These 
the boys used to steal, when he was excited describ- 
ingthe Bluff King Hal lot,sothat placingthe pennies 
with the plunder had to be discontinued. Latterly 
the old *un bought three theatrical sovereigns from 
Mr. Robinson at threepence each, which made the 
plunder look much more valuable than formerly. 

Everybody in the wax-line knows that no show 
would go down without the last horrible murder. 
When a show comes to a fair every year, the same 
visitors get familiar with the old figures after a 
time, so that a new murderer is always an attractive 
novelty. There is always something that draws in a 
murder — everybody appears to like it so much. If 
we cannot see a murder modelled in waxwork, like 
it was in our show, we like to read about it in the 
papers. If there are not enough murders naturally 
as they occur, we like to have them invented and 
put in pur plays and tales. People must have them 
somehow, or be disappointed and get low-spirited. 

Just before the time I am mentioning we had a 
capital murder with suicide in our county, which 

III 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

lent itself perfectly to the waxy art Whichcord the 
murderer had first cut his child's throat (which was 
represented in our show by a large doll with a piece 
of red braid tied round its neck) ; he then shot 
his wife (the pointed pistol in his left hand had a 
piece of cotton wool to show the smoke still issuing 
from the barrel), and then cut his own throat with 
his left hand, so that the whole affair appeared to 
be going on at once and was really quite exciting. 

The above described was a dead stop-block at 
fair-times, for the visitors liked it so much, it was 
quite difficult to move them away from it. 

The other figures in the show consisted mostwise 
of three other murderers, a hangman carrying a real 
rope with which Greenacre was said to have been 
hanged, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Nelson, 
Palmerston, Cobden, and Mr. Gladstone and Mr. 
Disraeli (newly added), Boneypart, and Margaret 
Scott Except Wellington, who had a big nose, 
the heads of the others were very much alike, as 
most of them had been cast in the same mould, 
with very little modelling afterwards. They were 
mostly distinguished by certain personalities. Pal- 
merston by a twig in his mouth (taken from 
Punchy then just issued). Nelson by his arm being 
in a sling, Disraeli by a curl on his forehead, Glad- 
stone had a chopper under his arm (when we were 
not cutting wood), Boneypart, standing by the side, 
held a roll of paper, which he pointed to the new 

112 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE WAXWORK SHOW 

figures of Disraeli and Gladstone. Mrs. Margaret 
Scott, a figure from the old show, was very short 
and thin, said to be one hundred and twenty-five 
years old at her death. 

Our only other important figure was the Sleep- 
ing Beauty ; upon this the old *un had employed 
all his skill. He had seen a Sleeping Beauty 
in a London show, but he thought at the time 
it was beyond his reach, as there appeared to be 
so much expensive waxwork about it. 

Some years afterwards, as he was looking up 
things a bit in the New Cut, Lambeth, to discover 
some novelties for his show, he came across a 
second-hand barber's figure, which exactly lent 
itself to produce the Sleeping Beauty. This bust 
of a lady showed her chest (as they say ladies 
do at parties in London ; but, if they do, I do not 
think it looks very decent). She had one arm and 
hand, all in waxwork, in which the man said she 
had held a fan. This figure was only turned 
slightly yellow and was very little soiled. It had 
formerly been in the window of a hairdresser in 
Bond Street. It had jet-black hair in stiff curls 
by the side of the face, with the upper part of 
the hair waxed down tight to the forehead with 
cosmetic. It was quite in fashion, both in style 
and colour of the hair at the time. 

The old 'un bargained for this fine figure for 
twenty-four shillings, and brought it home well 
H 113 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

packed — in great delight. To make the body 
complete for the Sleeping Beauty, as regards wax- 
work, it required two wax feet extending higher 
up than the ankles. These the old *un was obliged 
to get new from Stiff's, at a cost of twenty-five 
shillings the pair. 

I have already mentioned, some pages back, that 
the body of the Sleeping Beauty was made of 
waterproof cloth, which had been formerly blown 
out to form the figure, but now it was stuffed with 
hay and wadding. The wax legs and the one arm 
were sewn on to parts of the legs of old stockings, 
which could be drawn over the waterproof. In 
this way we could fix them and take them off for 
packing. The ox bladder that we put in the chest 
to imitate a breathing motion by the action of a 
pair of bellows was at first made with a short pipe 
to work from behind the curtains, but, as this took 
me away from the front of the show to work it, we 
afterwards increased the length of the pipe to 
reach my station. The old *un rang a bell to give 
me notice when he arrived at the figure in his 
round of the show. 

The garment the Sleeping Beauty wore was a 
kind of bed-gown, which my aunt made, in thin 
white silk, which she bought second-hand. It had 
short sleeves. The bed-gown was frilled top and 
bottom, leaving as much of the waxwork visible as 
possible. 

114 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE WAXWORK SHOW 

The old 'un modelled the closed eyes by cutting 
ofif the upper eyelids, re-setting them lower down 
and filling in the space above, of which he made 
a very fair job considering his means. 

This work of art was placed high up at the back 
of the show, as it had only one arm and hand. 
In the hand, in place of the fan it formerly held, 
the old 'un put a small red morocco book of Watts' 
Hymns, as he thought this very suitable for the 
subject. We had a stout rope in front to keep the 




inquisitive boys off, who always want to see more 
beyond the dress than a showman intends to be 
visible. 

I should say a little more about murderers, 
as these remarks may be useful to anybody enter- 
ing the wax-line ; and everybody knows wax- 
works and murderers are always associated together 
even in the greatest waxworks in London, in 
agreement with the public taste. But as regards 
the wax-line, these are convenience figures just the 
same as the robbers in the cave I have mentioned. 
IIS 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

They can wear almost any old togs and worn-out 
boots ; and even for such as Richmond the mur- 
derer, who was a gent, the old 'un bought a whole 
suit of left-off gent's black togs, after a waiter at 
an inn could not wear them longer, for five shillings 
and a pint of beer. And as for the heads, some 
of them came originally with the show that was 
bought by the old 'un when he commenced 
business in the wax-line. , 

The hair on the old figures was generally rusty, 
and the wax was brown, or green, or dirty. This 
had a neglected look, which was recognised to 
be very suitable for a murderer. Otherwise our 
murderers were originally figures of very respect- 
able persons, as Lord Byron, Lord Brougham, 
Richard the Third, and George the Third, in the 
old show. 

If the figure desirable to convert into a mur- 
derer had originally a kind of smile or smirk upon 
his face, this did not come in so well for a murderer ; 
but with a warm skewer you could easily bring 
the corners of the mouth down and colour the 
place over to make him look as savage as desirable. 
The old 'un opened one of the mouths a little — I 
think it was the late George the Third, now our 
Greenacre — and with a bit of bone sawn off an old 
toothbrush, which he stuck behind the lips, made 
him show his teeth. This was very artistic, I 
think, and quite horrid. It was much admired. 
Ii6 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE WAXWORK SHOW 

We had two other figures, the Russian Giant 
and Tom Thumb the dwarf; these were very gener- 
ally set up outside the show as call-birds, but were 
sometimes put at the head and feet of the Sleeping 
Beauty. When we took up our place in a fair, a 
second year running, the call-birds were changed 
for two of the murderers. The giant wore the 
old 'un*s old green coat — left off some years before 
— which was very short for him, but it had the 
effect of making him look taller. A pair of old 
trousers were turned into knee-breeches, which 
brought up the height in the legs, which was 
again extended by a tall hat on his head. If the 
giant's coat was too short the dwarfs coat was, for 
his size, proportionally too long, which one expects 
to see in ready-made togs. The dwarf had a boy's 
head, which did not quite agree with the old *un's 
description, that he was thirty- three years of age. 

For the general respectability of our show, I 
may say that nearly all our figures wore gloves, 
mostly white cotton ones ; not only such important 
persons as Bluff King Hal, Prince Albert, and the 
ladies had clean pairs occasionally, but the hang- 
man also. These white gloves were worn over the 
gloves that were stuffed with bran to form the 
hands already mentioned. The collars, or shirt-- 
fronts, if the men had them, were also washed and 
got up, when my aunt could find time. To save as 
much washing as possible, all our men had their 

117 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

coats buttoned up high in front. Once a year, in 
the winter time, all our gals had their lace-work 
washed and got up, so that when we started for the 
fairs all our laundry- work was perfect. It was at 
this time that the discoloured waxwork looked at 
its worst, when it was shown up against the snow- 
white linen. I mentioned this to my aunt. She 
replied that the waxwork was the old 'un's busi- 
ness, the linen was hers. All she had to do was to 
see the figures were nice and clean. This was 
quite natural to her, as she was herself a very clean, 
well-brought-up woman and liked to make this 
evident in the show. 

We had many other figures which got broken, 
and were " killed off," as we said. One very good 
pair of these figures was " The finding of Moses." 
This had a very old barber's head peeping through 
the curtains at the back, with a naked baby laid 
in front in a kind of bird's nest made out of rushes. 
This was in the old show when we bought it. The 
lady at the back, who was supposed to be trying 
to find Moses, got broken. The baby had turned 
very yellow, and looked bilious-like. The old *un 
used to get chaffed a bit about it The lady 
visitors asked if it was a model of his own baby : 
" It did not look very healthy." The boys said, 
" Guve ee a powder, guv'nor ; ee looks orful bad." 
Another asked, " Is it a dead baby she is looking 
after ? " The baby, besides being off colour, had 
ii8 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



. THE WAXWORK SHOW 

several cracks, through packing and travelling. The 
old 'un killed it, and melted and scraped ofif the 
wax for mending other figures. For this my aunt 
was very thankful, as it left just a little more room 
for her when they were travelling by night. 

I may say this about vans, which is quite natural, 
you cannot have more in your show than you can 
carry in your van ; or maybe you have two or 
more vans, but the same holds good. In our case, 
we had a van and a cart which carried the tent 
and other fixtures. 

Now, I think no one was fonder of his art than 
the old 'un. If he could have had his way all his 
figures would have been touched up to last for ever, 
and never one would have been killed off. But 
he had also a fancy for new subjects besides the 
murderers, which were necessary for his business, 
as I have shown. Every new figure took up room 
in the van when we were travelling. A woman 
and children could not walk by the side of the van 
all through a long night, when necessary to get to 
a fair, perhaps fourteen miles off, by next morning. 
A crib, therefore, had to be made for them in the 
van, which took up much more room than four 
times as many figures. I have shown how the old 
'un managed to get over the difficulty of carrying 
a large show in our van and cart, by the close 
packing of his skeleton figures. It was, however, 
a mystery to everyone in the fair-line. 
119 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

For all this, the joy that the old 'un had in 
acquiring a new figure for his show, which crowded 
my aunt up a bit more, was bane to her. She 
said her family was packed so tightly that the 
children and she could not breathe ; she expected 
the old 'un would find some of them dead in the 
morning after a hot night. 

The old *un and my aunt used often to try to 
coax one or two of our figures into Robinson's van, 
as we were familiar with the family. It was of no 
use ; they would not have them. We have some- 
times managed to get a few carried for us in the 
wild beast show-vans, when my aunt was ill. This 
left more comfortable room for her and the old 'un 
in night travelling. The figures had afterwards a 
kind of wild-beastly smell, so that this accommo- 
dation was not pressed more than it was found 
necessary. 



1 20 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 




CHAPTER IX 

MANAGEMENT 

JNE of the most important 
matters for the success of a 
waxwork show is that the 
showman should describe the 
figures in a graphic and inter- 
esting manner. I have already 
mentioned that Joe Smith took 
a long time, and had great difficulty in learning 
the speech for his peep-show. This difficulty 
increased with him a hundred - fold when he 
had to describe his waxworks, indeed it quite 
barred its success when he was starting. He 
suffered greatly also for want of knowledge of 
historical facts, as, unfortunately for him, he 
could not read, so he had to learn all the history 
and particulars from others. This proved very 
difficult to him when he set up a new figure, 
or altered the name of an old one that had gone 
out of date. His want of memory was also a 

121 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

great trouble to him. He also appeared to have 
an unwillingness to speak, and used at all times 
as few words as possible. He spoke in a puffy 
manner. 

He would say to me, "Bill," then wait a 
minute, and say, "block." I knew he then 
wanted a block to raise a figure in the back- 
ground, so as to be able to show all he thought 
looked respectable about it. As we went on 
setting out the figures he would say, in like 
manner, "rope." That was the rope to keep the 
visitors back from the Sleeping Beauty. " Rags," 
meaning curtains ; " Dust," meaning I was to 
strew the ground with sawdust. I cannot 
remember that he ever wasted a word or said 
a longer one than was necessary, except in 
swearing, which broke out at all times like a 
chorus that he always remembered. 

If the above shows his ordinary business talk, 
it in no way represents his description of his 
waxwork figures, which at one period might be 
described as quite eloquent, when he was not 
sleepy after dinner-time. I could not imagine 
how he acquired this until my aunt told me all 
about it. 

It appears that Robinson's show and the old 
'un*s were always next to each other at the local 
fairs, just as I knew them when I first came into 
the line. The boxing-booth was next Robin- 

122 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



MANAGEMENT 

son's on the other side. The wild beast show, 
the fat woman, and learned pig show were 
generally on the opposite side with the toy 
stalls. Positions are generally held in these 
concerns year after year. The neighbours, Mr. 
Robinson, who was called "Nobbie" in the fair, 
and the "waxy 'un," my uncle, were always 
known to be chums. 

Now if there was one thing in this world that 
the old *un enjoyed more than another, it was 
to sit out an entire performance at Robinson's 
show. This lasted half an hour when things were 
not busy, and a quarter of an hour when they 
were. 

My uncle could never tell which part he liked 
the most ; whether it was the tragedy which 
embraced sometimes a duel with real swords, a 
murder and a ghost, or the comedy or comedy 
pantomime with clown, pantaloon, and occa- 
sionally with harlequin and Columbine (the 
last, Mrs. Robinson, appearing only when there 
was no cooking to be done, or her baby to be 
attended to). 

If the old 'un was undecided in his admiration 
of the pieces that were played, he was in no 
way about the performers. Nobbie was certainly 
the best actor. Whether he was acting the part 
of a murderer, an old woman, or a clown, he 
always predominated above all the others, or, as 
123 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

we say in stage-land, he was the one star. The 
old 'un tried in his show to imitate him. He 
particularly aspired to a gruff murderer's voice, 
as given by Nobbie, as he thought it most suit- 
able for the melancholy subjects forming the 
greater part of his show. 

As an experiment, the old 'un got Nobbie, after 
much persuasion and a liberal share of beef-steak 
and onions and stout at several suppers, in which 
Mrs. Robinson joined, as her permission was con- 
sidered necessary, to teach him for a consideration, 
how to describe the figures, in the most eloquent 
manner, of the best art of the English stage, which 
Robinson professed he was quite able to teach. 

I think perhaps I ought to make a note here 
upon the "beef-steak and onions," which I have 
mentioned, for the suppers, as I cannot bring it 
in again, and I have what Mr. Saunders calls a 
sentiment upon the subject. In the first place, 
I will state that I think the old 'un had a good 
appetite. He used to say a pound of steak was 
his mark at fair-times, and I have often sat in awe 
at the dinner-table when my aunt's, the kids' (there 
were two), and my dinner was cut off the dish of 
steak for my aunt to divide, to see what a good 
pound there appeared to be left for the old 'un. If 
he liked steak, I am quite sure, although he did not 
say so, that he liked fried onions burnt nice and 
brown, with a bit of butter in them, quite as well 
124 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



MANAGEMENT 

as the steak. And I must say myself that at about 
half-past eleven (we dined at twelve), when the 
smell of burnt onions first spread itself over our 
tent it used to make me feel very peckish. 

I often thought at the time, that I was not 
sure the smell of these nice fried onions in the 
lean-to at the back of our tent did our trade 
much good. It might possibly have drawn in 
a few, but I have seen nice smart people come 
to the doorway when I was touting, and quite 
stagger backwards from it and go straight away, 
when the onions were being cooked. They may 
have felt the smell too exciting to their appetites, 
as perhaps they were not going home for an hour 
or so to their dinners, or perhaps they did not 
like to disturb us at dinner-time ; but of this I feel 
sure, we lost many twopences we should have had 
if there had not been this delicious smell. 

If I had not been so fond of steak and onions 
myself I should certainly have told the old *un 
my opinion about it. 

I must go back to my uncle's show speech. 
The composition of this would have presented 
extreme difficulty had it not so happened that 
Robinson had a man of high literary attainment 
attached to his show. This learned man wrote 
out Nobbie's tragedies and comedies, that is, a 
new piece of each kind to be produced on his 
stage every year. 

I2S 



Digitized by VjOOQ iC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 



The literary man, Mr. Hackworth (we called 
him " Tragie,") was most fortunate in finding such 
a liberal man as Robinson, for he had endeavoured 
in vain to sell his tragedies, and he could not get 
enough literary work at reporting, which he had 
tried, to keep a cat alive. When he found Robin- 
son out he became his best friend, for he not only 
bought some of the plays he 
had written off him at a pound 
each, which, with considerable 
alterations and cutting down, 
were performed in Robinson's 
show, but he employed him 
right on to play one or two 
parts in each play at eighteen 
shillings a week during the fair- 
season, and allowed him at the 
same time to report all the fairs, 
for which he would get as much 
as half a crown a report from the 
county paper editors. 

We may say a little more of 
Mr. Hackworth, as he will be 
constantly mentioned. He was 
a very timid and a very re- 
Indeed he needed such a bold man 
as Robinson to bring him out and show his true 
worth. He was a very slight, rather tall, gentle- 
manly fellow, of quiet retiring habits. He appeared 
126 




spectful man. 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



MANAGEMENT 

always quite distinct from common fair-folk. His 
head was rather narrow ; his eyes were dark 
and sunken, with very projecting brows; his 
face was very thin ; he had a slightly Roman 
nose ; his lips were narrow ; he had black 
straight hair, and was bald on the top of his head. 
Mr. Hackworth's father was a small tradesman, 
who was a very intelligent fellow, at Burley Bridge. 
There is a grammar school in this town with 
foundation for the education of the sons of poor 
tradesmen living in the town. The foundation 
also provides for a scholarship, with maintenance 
at a Cambridge college for the scholar who 
comes out highest in the grammar school every 
third year. Mr. Hackworth, at seventeen, being 
the best scholar in the school, thought he should 
attain this scholarship. The principal of the 
school, a reverend gentleman of the church, 
decided for another lad, the son of a churchman 
(Hackworth's father was a dissenter). As there 
was no appeal against the principal's decision, 
Hackworth had to leave the school. He was 
now too old to learn a trade, and his father 
was poor. He tried, as many other well- 
educated young men do, who have not learned 
any special occupation, or have been articled to 
an overcrowded profession, to get his living by 
literary work, and, just as the many others, he failed. 
If he could have kept in his groove of learning 
127 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

he would have done well, as he had an excellent 
memory and good power of application. He 
would have come out very high in college exami- 
nations, although of very small genius. 

After my uncle had found out Mr. Hackworth's 
abilities he entered into an agreement with him ; 
that he should, during the next winter, for the 
sum of thirty shillings, write out the whole show 
words for him up to the waxwork figures, trying 
at the same time to humour him in his fancies. I 
may say that he not only did this for the thirty 
shillings, but he rearranged many of the figures by 
making important differences. As an instance, 
Walker the murderer had gone out of date, and 
the old 'un was tired of him. This he changed 
into the Duke of Kent, the Queen's respected 
father, and set him upon the Royal block, where 
there appeared to be a deficient space. The 
murderer's old coat was all to pieces. The old 
'un bought an old soldier's coat for him at 
Chatham for four shillings, which, with a tinsel 
star, set the Duke of Kent up fine. Mr. Hack- 
worth wrote some very loyal words to say about 
the Duke, but it was too much for the old 'un to 
remember, so he left it out. 

When our show was written up by Mr. Hack- 
worth in bold writing, my aunt used to read it to 
the old 'un every night and morning. In about a 
year he appeared very nearly to remember it, 
128 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MANAGEMENT 

making only a few mistakes, but he gradually lost 
it in a short time afterwards. Robinson under- 
took to train the old 'un to speak the show speech 
in his own grand style of oratory, which, as I said 
before, was " with all the eloquence of the English 
stage." This style of speaking he never lost, after 
the old 'un had once attained it, although he finally 
used mostly his own words. 

I may here remark that I do not mean to say 
that the old 'un followed Mr. Hackworth at any 
time in all he gave him to say. This would neither 
be complimentary to Mr. Hackworth's learning nor 
to the old 'un's conception of what would be suit- 
able to the visitors at his show. I may explain the 
case of the Bluff King Hal group. Mr. Hack- 
worth wanted to turn some of the queens from 
staring directly at the visitors as all our figures did, 
by making one or two of them put one hand up to 
their eyes (I think he meant with a white pocket 
handkerchief, crying, like, as some of them were 
going to have their heads cut off or something of that 
kind). He gave the old 'un sentimental speeches 
to make about them. The old 'un would not have 
it. It was not what he had heard of the subject, 
and he said it took off all the heartiness of the 
character of Bluff King Hal who, he had heard, 
managed his six queens very well. 

During or before our performance. Duck our 
hostler beat the drum and blew the whistles 
I 129 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

while I touted, soliciting all passers-by, "Walk 
up, gents, the performance is just about to 
begin." 

I ran through our subjects, greatly extolling our 
new block of the latest sensational murder, which 
I said was truly represented by our special artist, 
just as it took place, by the painting outside on one 
fly of the van. Everything inside was taken from 
life. 

The governor is just about to begin to give a 
full historical description of all our models, so that 
you will not only be amused, but you will have a 
lot of instruction thrown in for nothing. " Walk 
up ! walk up ! Just about to begin ; only tuppence 
each." 

My aunt always sat busily knitting in the pay- 
box ready to take the money. 

When we had a dozen or a score or more persons 
in the show, according to how the fair was going, 
the old 'un used to appear outside for a few 
minutes to display his broad, bright-coloured 
waistcoat and then go down to begin. When 
things were a bit slack he would go through the 
whole show speech ; when things were busy he 
would cut his descriptions very short, letting the 
visitors out at the back after five or ten minutes. 
We will follow him through the show speech in 
slack times, as, for instance, late in the morning, 
when we had the most respectable persons in. 

130 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MANAGEMENT 

As regards the first block of King Charles, Mr. 
Hackworth, the tragic writer, made some objections 
to Cromwell personally cutting off King Charles's 
head. He wanted an extra figure for headsman. 
The old 'un protested that his van would hold no 
more figures. If Cromwell ordered the job to be 
done, it must be just the same as though he did it 
himself. Altogether he thought the subject was 
more effective as it was. We will begin : — 

"Luddies and gents, the fust lot of figgers to 
which I will call your attention, represents King 
Charles and Oliver Crumble " (this was his word for 
Cromwell). "The figger on the right is Oliver 
Crumble ; on the left, King Charles. You knows 
from 'istory that King Charles was a very pious, 
good king, and that Crumble was a crafty, know- 
ing old man, besides which, he was a great coward. 
'Owsoever, by bribin' King Charles' servants, and 
deceivin' the goverment and tellin' a lot of lies, 
he managed to get King Charles into 'is power. 
When he did so, he made up 'is mind at once, 
being a very cruel man, that he would cut 'is 'ead 
off. In our waxworks you 'ave a correct repre- 
sentation of the scene just as it 'appened." 

Here we had in what follows a little of the old 
'un's invention adapted to our machinery. 

"You will see, as I said. Crumble was a great 
coward, so that he did not manage very well as a 
murderer. Now I will show you what he did." 

131 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

With this he touched the spring, and the chopper 
fell suddenly down about eight inches; which made 
the audience jump. 

" 'Is fust intention was to chop King Charles' 'ead 
right off at once, but his courage failed him, and 'e 
pulled up sudden just as the chopper was fallin*, as 
you sees before you. You can see 'ow Crumble 
trembled over the job. 'Owsoever, the king got rest- 
less like on the block, so Crumble plucked up more 
courage and, shettin' his heyes, he gave another cut 
which did the deed. I will not show you this 
carried out as it was, for fear it would shake your 
nerves. For this deed Crumble moped for ever after, 
and died of grief and sorro', and the rats eat him." 

The moral given above was, I believe, entirely of 
the old 'un's invention. 

A little boy says, " I can see the place where 
King Charles's neck was marked out ready to 
have his head cut off." (This was where it 
separated formerly.) The old 'un replies, " A very 
clever and observin' boy that ; he does know a bit," 
a sentence Mr. Hackworth had prepared for him 
to meet such occasions, as his temper was irritable, 
and he would naturally have given the boy a cuff 
for his impudence. 

" The next lot of figgers I have to show you is 

the Queen and the Royal Family. In the centre 

you sees the Queen correctly represented in 

'er best dress, used only for state occasions, 

132 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



MANAGEMENT 

with the crown on her 'ead. To the left you 
sees her respected parient, the celebrated Duke 
of Kent On her right you* *ave a correct model 
of Printe Albert, with the garter on his leg, 
which is put on to show him to be a most impor- 
tant person. The Princess Royal is correctly re- 
presented sitting in the front nursing the baby, 
which, I suppose, naturally she 'ad to do, being 
the oldest gal. Then you sees the Prince of Wales 
standing by his father with a whip in his hand, 
and his youngest brother, the Duke of Edinburgh, 
standing by the I>uke of Kent with a top. The 
whole lot was modelled from life, and hexactly 
repreisented the Royal Family a short time ago. 

" Move on, luddies and gents ! the next I shall 
have to show you is the splendid lot of figgers of 
Bluff King Hal and his six wives. Bluff King 
Hal was king of this country more than a 'undred 
years ago. He was a jolly, sturdy fellow, as you 
sees before you, a very strong man, and supposed 
to be our finest king. The model that you sees 
before you was taken when he was alive, special 
for a travellin* waxworks. And the mould that 
was then made is still kept in the trade, so we may 
say the king is modelled correct from life. The 
queens also are true figgers. The queens, as you 
sees them, are as they appeared when they were all 
alive. One of them. No. 2, Anny Bullen, had a 
nasty temper. Bluff King Hal tried everythin' 
133 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

he could to mend 'er, and swore at 'er a good bit, 
but it was no good. So for peace and quietness 
among the rest of thefn, he 'ad *er 'ead chopped ofiF, 
as was common to do at that time if anyone got a 
queer wife, and I think this was the only way he 
'ad to get out of his troubles. Anny Bullen was 
the mother of our good Queen Bess, of blessed 
memory, who was a very good woman. She used 
to appear in this 'ere show before I 'ad it, dressed 
up all in tinsel. I did away with it, as it made 
'er look vain and gaudy, which was very wrong. 
What I wants you to admire in this lot is the 
correct model of Bluff King Hal and his six booti- 
ful wives, which he managed to keep all smilin', as 
you sees before you. This is one of the finest l6ts 
in the wax-line." 

It will be seen from the above that Mr. Joe 
Smith's historical impression was that all the 
queens were alive at one time and lived together 
with the king. If the old 'un got an impression in 
any way into his head, no one could drive it out 
Therefore our friend Mr. Hackworth, as I said before, 
was powerless over him in reference to this group. 

" The next I shall have to show you is the correct 
representation of robbers in a cave dividin' their 
plunder. These 'ere robbers were 'ighwaymen 
on week-a-days and burglars on Sundays when all 
good people 'ad gone to church, so you sees their 
plunder was very various. The figger on the left is 
134 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MANAGEMENT 

a correct model of the well-known 'ighwayman, 
Dick Turpin. 

** The last lot of figgers, luddies and gents, is a 
correct model of Whichcord, just as 'e appeared 
when 'e 'ad murdered 'is wife and child and then 
committed suicide, which filled this 'ere county 
with 'orror in the spring. You sees the baby's 
throat IS cut, and then it was laid out on the table, 
and his wife is being shot, the smoke still coming 
out of the pistol, while he cuts his own throat with 
a razor. The subject is so well modelled that it 
speaks for itself without further description. I 
will leave you two or three minutes lookin' at it in 
silence, and we will then move on. 

" The next is the figger of the Sleepin' Beauty, 
taken from life. This 'ere lady fell fast asleep 
after the anxiety of losing her mother-in-law, 
and did not wake up again for twenty year. If 
you notice you can see her buzzom move to show 
that she is asleep and not dead, as some might 
think" (I was working the bellows at the back). 
" She was supposed to be the most bootiful woman 
livin', which you may judge from the correct 
model you sees before you." 

An inquisitive boy asks, " Where did it happen ? " 

The old 'un had not thought this over, but 
it took a sharp 'un to beat him ; he said at once, 
"Up in Lunnon. I can't exactly, at present, tell 
you the place." 

135 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

I will miss the descriptions of the severa 
murderers, which varied with the times ; the 
names being changed, but not the figures. As 
to the other figures, he had little to say about 
them. He called attention to Disraeli's curl, which, 
he said, "took him a hour and a 'arf to curl up 
every morning proper." " You can see the stain on 
Nelson's shirt front where he was shot" (this 
figure formerly belonged to a group of the death 
of Nelson). " Boneypart is just in the position 
he was seen commanding the battle of Waterloo — 
taken from life." " Now, luddies and gents, I will 
let you out the back way to save the crowd of 
other visitors who are trying to get into the show." 



136 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CHAPTER X 



A SEPARATION 




HAD been with my uncle seven 
years, and had grown to a stout 
boy of nearly fifteen. My uncle 
treated me still as quite a child. 
He used to cuff me about, and 
would not allow me to speak 
before him or to explain any 
matter unless he asked me. He also continued to 
throw things at me which hurt me, and occasionally 
to kick me. I was fond of my aunt, and she held 
me, or I should have run away long ago, for my 
mind was more chafed than my body by the 
wounds he inflicted upon me. 

At Tetford Fair we had a very wet day, and the 
old 'un was therefore very ill-tempered. During 
the night we had a heavy storm that blew our tent- 
pegs loose, which caused the tent to flap inwards 
and throw down several of our figures, besides 
which, the wet had drifted in and soiled others. I 
137 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

was up and out trying to re-peg the tent, but I was 
powerless with the canvas against the wind. The 
old 'un and my aunt got up, but as it was pitch 
dark in the tent, and the candle in the lantern was 




constantly blown out, nothing could be done till 
morning. At earliest dusk I got Duck round to 
the show ; he lodged in the town, and we, with the 
help of other show-people, managed to peg the 

138 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



A SEPARATION 

tent down to windward. The old 'un and the 
missus kept inside and moved the figures into the 
dry part, and cleaned them. 

While I was trying to get the canvas down closer 
to the ground from the inside I pulled a slack eord, 
and it broke with the pull, which made me slip 
backwards, so that I upset Napoleon, who had 
blown rather loose on his pegs. I had just set him 
up again when the old 'un came behind me in a 
passion and gave me a full swing of his right hand 
oa my ear. This knocked me down, and, to his 
astonishment, stunned me, so that I could not 
move. 

My aunt and the old 'un tried to set me up, 
but no doubt I had fainted. My aunt said she 
thought he had killed me, I looked sp white. 
Duck joined in and said, "There will be a jollifica- 
tion with the fair-folk when the old *un is 'anged. 
ril be a witness that he did it on purpose." My 
aunt told him to be quiet and fetch the doctor. 
Duck replied, " To give the old 'un pisen to save 
him disgracin' the family by being 'anged?" 
The old 'un was dumfounded. My aunt said 
again, "Fetch the doctor." Duck went ofif, and 
the doctor returned with him. 

I recovered a bit, but felt very bad. My head 

began to swell, and my ear to bleed a little. The 

doctor ordered me to be taken to the Saracen's 

Head, where he would order a bedroom for me. 

139 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

He told the old *un to stay where he was, and 
went off directly to the Police Station to give him 
in charge. Joe was taken up and remained in 
custody till the meeting of the magistrates next 
day at noon. With the assistance of Duck, my 
aunt undressed the figures and took off the heads, 
and put the heads and clothes as well as she could 
hurriedly into the van for security. She then 
went round the fair to get some of the show-folk 
to stay behind to give a gooci word in court for the 
old 'un. This they all plumply refused to do. 
They said in general terms that what he got 
would do him good, and they hoped the punish- 
ment would be pretty stiff. She asked Duck 
also to say what he could for him. He replied, 
" I can't say anything of him better than I 
know." 

My aunt came round with her little girl, in a 
very exhausted state, to see me at the Saracen's 
Head, where I was lying in bed in great pain. I 
had some lotion by my side sent by the doctor. 
My aunt brought with her some camomile flowers 
and poppy heads that she bought in the town. She 
got the cook at the inn to stew them for her in the 
kitchen and bring them up to the bedroom. She 
afterwards bathed my head with them, and put 
the hot fomentation on my face. The touch of her 
kind hand was a great consolation to me for the pain 
I felt. She said she knew I loved Lizzie, her little 
140 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



A SEPARATION 

girl. She took off her frock and shoes and laid 
her beside me to cuddle to sleep. 

I suppose few people realise the strong senti- 
ments that may be active in the mind of a rough 
boy, but my aunt understood this, and I felt there 
was nothing in the whole world I could possibly 
do that I would not have done for her. 

Lizzie, who was scarcely awake, snoosled her 
back up to me and was soon fast asleep. My aunt 
advised me to try to go to sleep ; she wetted the 
rag again with the hot camomile liquor in the 
saucepan and laid it on my face. 

She said, " I will watch until you are asleep, and 
then try to get a little sleep myself, sitting up in 
the easy-chair, as I am very tired." I soon fell off, 
and so did she, so that we all slept for an hour or 
more ; and although I had a burning pain in my 
ear when I awoke I felt much better. 

It was now nearly twelve o'clock at night. A 
knock was made at the door, and a voice inquired 
whether my aunt was going to stay the night. 

" I shall be down in a few minutes," she replied. 

She put Lizzie's frock and shoes on while she 
still remained asleep, and then asked me imploringly, 
"Try to say nothing against Joe in court to- 
morrow, for if he gets three months, which I expect 
he will, I do not know how I shall get the van and 
cart home by myself, and it will be all the worse 
for me afterwards." 

141 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

She knew my sympathy would be with her only. 
I bottled up my indignation against the old 'un, 
and said, "I will do as you wish." She kissed 
me on the forehead, threw Lizzie over her shoulder, 
and left me. 

The police served my aunt and Duck with a 
summons to appear at 11.30 the next morning. 
The old 'un was brought into the court-room of 
the Saracen's Head, where they had to appear, at 
twelve o'clock. He was seated in court between 
two constables. I was brought into court with my 
head bound up. Seeing the doctor I beckoned to 
him, and he came up to me. I said in a whisper, 
'* I do not want to say anything against my uncle 
for my aunt's sake." 

The doctor explained the case, and said, " The 
boy's ear is injured, but I think he may recover 
his hearing in it after a time. I advise that he 
should be kept quiet for a week in a room at the 
Saracen's Head, and have every attention." 

My aunt was called forward and sworn. She 
said, "I did not see the act. I think Bill must 
have annoyed my husband very much, for him to 
strike him so hard. My husband is very impetuous 
when put out, and I think he cannot control his 
passion, but he is sorry for it afterwards. I hope 
your worship will not imprison him, as I cannot 
manage the show by myself" 

She was asked at once to sit down. 
142 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



A SEPARATION 

Duck, whose name I then heard for the first 
time to be Thomas Williams, was then called and 
sworn. He was asked if he saw Josiah Smith strike 
the boy. He replied, " No," " What did he know 
about it?" *T 'eard the old 'un swearin' like 
mad, and then a thud on the ground, which I 
was sure knocked poor Bill over, so I went in 
and saw 'im stunned." 

He was asked by the magistrate if Smith had 
ill-used the boy before. To this he replied — 

"Alius! 'e 'it 'im 'ard and pretended 'e didn't 
know it. 'E was just like old Staggins, who 
always trod on 'is old 'ooman's toes with 'is 
thick boots when he was out of temper, and said it 
'urt 'im more than 'er, till she died of cankered 
feet, and then 'e said she must 'ar died from 
some accident." 

The magistrate suggested that he did not want 
to know anything about old Staggins, but what 
Josiah Smith did to William Smith. 

" He cuffed 'im about. I thought as 'ow the old 
beast would have killed 'im off long ago." 

He was asked if he had anything more to say ; 
he replied, "I shall leave him mysel' now 'e 'as 
become so * hextry wishus.' " 

He was asked to sit down. 

This terribly cut my aunt up, as she felt there 
was now no hope of the old 'un escaping from 
imprisonment. 

143 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

Joe was asked to stand up. "What have you 
to say to the serious charge against you." 

"Careless boy — didn't drive pegs 'ome— tent 




blowed loose — rain spoiled dolls — knocked Boiiey 
over — broke 'is nose — costs a pound for a new 
'ead — very careless. That's all." 

The magistrate said he must know that his big' 
144 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



A SEPARATION 

hand came down very heavy, so that carelessness 
was no excuse for giving the boy such a violent 
blow, which the doctor said had very nearly killed 
him. There were other means of punishing him ; 
he might have stopped his wages or his pocket- 
money, or other effective punishment. The old 
'un replied — 

" I don't give him no money." 

I was asked what I had to say for myself. I 
thought at the moment that I would try to explain 
how the whole affair happened, but I caught my 
aunt's imploring look, nodded to her, and said 
aloud, " Nothing ! " 

The doctor got up and told the magistrate that 
the boy, knowing his aunt's difficulties if Joe 
Smith were imprisoned, had promised her he 
would say nothing against him. 

The magistrate turned aside to the constable in 
charge and inquired in an undertone, so as not to 
be heard, what were Smith's means, to which 
he received the reply, "He makes plenty of 
money out of the show." The constable also told 
him it was the first offence known to the police ; 
also that the boy had not a penny in his pockets. 
The magistrate then said aloud — 

" Josiah Smith, I find the charge we have heard 

in court is your first offence known to the police. 

I shall, therefore, in this case treat you very 

leniently. I shall fine you two pounds for the 

K 145 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

assault ; five pounds, part to pay the doctor, and 
the remainder for William Smith's expenses at 
this inn, and for his injury if this is not found to 
be serious ; also ten shillings court fees. I bind 
you over on your own recognisances to keep the 
peace for one year. If you do not pay the fine I 
give you one month's imprisonment with hard 
labour. Further, if the assault should prove to be 
very serious as, for instance, by William losing 
hearing in one ear, you shall be called up to the 
court again for further judgment." 

Joe asked my aunt if she had brought the 
money. She replied she had. He stepped out of 
his seat and said — 

" Pay the devils." 

Upon this he was ordered back, and told he 
must now pay two pounds extra or two weeks 
extra imprisonment, for contempt of court. He 
replied — 

" ril go to prison fust." . 

The constables were leading him off when he 
thought better of the matter, and told them he 
would rather pay. One constable told him — 

" You must be very quiet then, as they have let 
you off very easy, I expect on your wife's account." 

He said no more, but paid the nine pounds ten 
and left the court with my aunt, muttering to 
himself 

Duck did not go near the wax show, and the 
146 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



A SEPARATION 

old 'un was very mad with him. But he found he 
could not carry on the show by himself, and could 
get no one to replace Duck, so that he had to come 
to reason. After much swearing he finally agreed 
that my aunt should go to the bar, where they 
expected Duck would be, to try to induce him to 
return. 

Duck was having half a pint of beer. My aunt 
persuaded him to come to help her off with the 
show, as the old 'un was so upset he could do 
nothing. Duck said, " I 'ill do it jist for to- 
day, as I sees you are done up, but 'ill settle it 
with the waxy 'un before I come to work ag'in on 
regular." 

When Duck returned, my aunt with his assist- 
ance took the boxes of heads and clothes out of 
the van, where she had placed them for security, 
and tried to pack the van properly in the manner 
as she had seen me do it. Not being used to 
packing, my aunt left no room for sleeping for 
herself and the old 'un. He was terribly upset 
about this. He had it all unpacked to re-pack it 
himself He found he could do it no better than 
my aunt, so that a whole bundle of men-sticks 
had to be tied on behind, and even then they had 
not nearly room enough. My aunt was quite 
worn out with work, and could do no more. 

I recovered in three days so as to get about, so I 
left the expensive Saracen's Head with fifty-two 

147 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

shillings change after paying the doctor. This 
money was very glorious to me. Although I was 
suffering great pain, I forgot all my troubles and 
took a place outside the coach for a run of ten 
miles in the direction we should have travelled if 
nothing had happened. This cost me half a crown. 
I cannot say I liked to part with so much money, 
but I had a great ambition to appear for once 
outside a coach, where I had so often envied 
others, when fagging very tired along the road by 
the side of our van. 



148 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CHAPTER XI 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 




HE coach mentioned 
in the last chapter 
arrived at Gray- 
stone in due time. 
The jolting had 
made my head ache 
a little, and I did 
not feel to have 
much appetite. But 
as I had had little 
solid food to eat 
since the blow I had received from the old 'un, 
I thought I would try a good dinner. I bought 
half a pound of beef-steak at the butcher's, and 
took it into the tap-room of the Royal George 
to broil it myself upon the gridiron over the open 
fire, which was kept ready, as usual at public- 
houses at noon for working men. I put my plate 
149 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

in the front of the fire 'to warm, and ordered a 
penny loaf and half a pint of beer. 

The steak when cooked was very tough, and 
my teeth and face felt tender. The potman said, 
" You have got a tough job there, mate." He took 
my knife to sharpen it on the stone window-sill 
outside the tap-room. When he came back he said, 
" That steak is off Farmer Gutteridge's old cow, 
who was known about here for many years. I 
saw them a-drivin' and a-pushin' of her into the 
slaughter-house. The sensible old thing knowed 
they was a-goin' wrong. She knowed she ought to 
'ave been sent to the tan-yard to be made up into 
solid leather. She would then have been useful, 
instead of chokin' her friends. I call it dead in- 
gratitude to the memory of the good old gal." 

With the sharp knife, by a sawing motion, I cut 
up the steak into very small pieces and swallowed 
it. I felt sleepy after this, so I got into the settle in 
the corner of the hearth, and slept for two hours. 
I then felt stronger and decided I would start for a 
seven-mile walk to catch up with the fair-folk, 
whom I knew would be at Aldwick Fair next 
day. 

Before Duck left with the old people, he called 
upon me at the Saracen's Head. He told me it 
would not do to let "the old bladder of lard" 
(he constantly varied his appellation of my uncle), 
have all his own way. He said, " He could not 
ISO 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 

do without you and myself." He told me "it 
was a joke to see him try to pack the van." He 
said, " Packin* that there van is jist like puttin' a 
donkey collar on. If a chap doesn't know it he's 
never like to find it out. No one can pack that there 
van with all the figgers but yoursel'." He advised 
me to hold off if I could get anything to do which 
would bring old " pork-sides " to his senses. I told 
him that was what I intended to do. He said, 
" If I stop with 'im, he'll 'ave to put my screw 
up pretty 'igh; that *ul make 'is old mug wince 
a bit." 

When I got within four miles of Aldwick, I 
saw Baggs the shier nearly stuck in the mud 
with his barrow in mounting a hill. I went up to 
him and asked, " What's the matter, old man." He 
looked scared at me and said, " I was told the 
waxy 'un had murdered you." I replied, " Not quite." 
He then told me that his donkey died last night 
and that he could not get one of the rascals in the 
fair to help him push the barrow to his next billet. 

"You should get a wife," I told him, "who 
could help you push and throw up your back 
sticks at the fairs." He said, " It didn't pay ! He 
could always get a wife when he wanted one 
pretty cheap, but if he was made to keep one in 
too close quarters, he should feel a little timid of 
any of the gals he knew at the fairs. He thought 
altogether he should prefer another donkey as 
151 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

being much more tractable-like for company, when 
he was at home in the winter time." 

Mr. Baggs' idea of women for shiers' wives was 
a little out of the common, as shying is a two- 
handed job. Shiers are generally married men. 
This appears to me to be a calling in which one 
can always tell whether the man or his wife is 
the stronger vessel. The shier at the post hands 
out the sticks for throwing, three a penny, and 
takes the money. The backer takes charge of 
the rods, and throws up the prizes when they are 
knocked ofif (if he or she gets no chance of 
cheating). There is no risk at the post, but at 
the back one often gets a tap with a stick from 
a random thrower, and sometimes a nastyish 
bruise ; so that generally the man or his wife, 
whichever is the better animal, takes the post. I 
must say the wife has kss risk at the back than 
a man, as fellows will not throw towards a woman. 
In Baggs' case, as I said, there was no wife, so 
his odd man or a gad took the back place. 

After we had pushed the barrow up the first 
hill, we adjourned to the pub at the top for a 
pint. Baggs then said — 

** You may as well stick to the job right on to 
the fair, for which I will give you a bob." 

This I was pleased to do. On the road he 
engaged me for two shillings a day as backer, 
which I was glad at the time to accept. 

152 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 

I cannot say I had taken much fancy to Baggs. 
I knew him very well, and we had always looked 
down upon him as of the inferior grade of show 
people. 

In our little domain we had three pretty distinct 
classes. Among the first-class people, there was 
the waxy 'un, who held his position partly from the 
superiority of my aunt; Mr. Robinson of the 
dramatic show, which included Mr. Hackworth, 
the learned dramatic author; the two partners, 
Langston & Company, of the wild beast show; 
Mr. Motey of the dancing-booth, a very decent 
fellow, and ^ few proprietors of the superior 
stalls. In the second grade there were the 
proprietors of various second-class stalls, also 
of the peep-show, the '*forty-in bull's eye," the 
silhouette cutter, the shiers and some others. In 
the third grade were the various labourers, hostlers 
and gads. These last were generally men of no 
character, who hung about the fairs for occa- 
sional jobs. There were also in the lower class 
a number of profligate women, who took work 
only when they were out of luck. The position 
I held with Baggs was generally taken by one 
of the gads, who was hired for the day as 
required. 

I found as we pushed the barrow along that 
Baggs left me a good share of the work to do for my 
shilling ; but I must say he appeared about worn 
153 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

out with the job himself, having pushed the heavy 
barrow four miles before I came up with him. 

Baggs was of middle height and a sturdy fellow, 
but I fancy from his condition that he was not 
very good at hard work. His face had a kind 
of bull-dog look, showing his front teeth. He 
was a little bloated, and, being unwashed for a 
^^ long period, his skin had 

dried up with the sun and 
wind till it was rather rusty. 
Beside which, a rather high 
temperature was kept up be- 
hind the skin by the grog 
which he imbibed freely. His 
face, from these complicated 
effects, somewhat resembled, 
in colour and texture, a fresh- 
fried veal cutlet. He earned a good lot of money 
— a pound a day or more at fair-times. 

When we arrived at the fair I was sent to the 
Travellers' Home to get the sand for the sacks to 
hold up the rods, as we were not allowed to dig 
holes in the town. I found the sand ready for 
me. I suppose it was provided to order. When 
I returned to our billet, we stuck up the rods in 
the sacks, put on the objects, and soon had the 
shying a-going. This was always a popular insti- 
tution at fair-times. I had my head still tied up in 
a handkerchief Not being used to the work, 
154 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 




LOW FAIR-LIFE 

which requires one to look pretty sharp, I got 
two or three nasty knocks with the sticks the first 
day. I did not find the place a sinecure. Indeed, 
in this direction, I did not find my change much 
for the better. With the old 'un, when he was a 
bit out of temper he would throw anything at 
hand at my legs or give me a cuff, which was not 
serious except in the last case. In my present posi- 
tion my head was most exposed, and I might by 
chance get an eye poked out, or my jaw broken. 
Such things to my knowledge have happened 
before now in this employment. 

It soon went the rounds of the fair that I was 
with Baggs. Duck slipped out to see me. The 
back of the waxworks came up to our billet. He 
told me he had squared it up with the old 
'un and gone back to his place. He told him 
that, after his nasty tricks with him, he did not 
consider his life was safe. This was all humbug, 
for he knew the old 'un, since he had become so 
fat, was really afraid of him. Duck told him 
some years ago that, if he touched him, he would 
do his best with his boots to take the beauty 
out of his calves, as he knew the old 'un was proud 
of his legs. This made him cautious, Duck not 
being of a very certain temper. Now Duck had 
bought a long American bowie-knife which he 
carried in his pocket, and told the old 'un if 
he played tricks with him he should stick it into 

155 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

his fat at all risks. He said there was danger 
with him just the same as with a mad dog. He 
therefore wanted more from him than he could 
get from anybody else. He certainly could not 
stay under twenty-one bob a week (he was hiaving 
eighteen shillings), as he wanted the three bob 
extra to insure with against loss of his life. 

The old *un replied he could not give it, and told 
Duck that, as it was, he should get nothing out of 
the show this year. 

Duck said, "You don't deserve to; but, as far 
as that goes, you do look starved out, you do. I 
expect everybody pities you except me. It is 
fortunate for you that God-a-Mighty sends all the 
stuff to build your cottages with from 'evan. I 
am sure you could not afford to buy it. I suppose 
it is 'cos you're so good, and don't swear much at 
your old woman and poor Bill. I am sure, if you 
drive things along as you are doing, you will go 
mad, as I see you look it now, which is the reason 
I mean to have more money. *Mad dogs is 
dangerous ! ' " 

The old 'un replied D (condemning his san- 
guinary organs of vision, and some other ex- 
clamations which may not be translated into polite 
literature) that he. would not give him a penny 
extra. 

Duck left him and soon got another place, to 
which he was just going. My aunt saw the old 
156 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 

'un's mistake, as Duck could not be replaced, ex- 
cept by two other men, which would be expensive. 
The old 'un gave her permission to see him again, 
to try to get him back to his old place by offering 
him the twenty-one shillings a week he demanded. 
The old 'un was, nevertheless, dreadfully sore about 
this extra money all the season, and swore about 
it (but always out of Duck's hearing). 

As I said before, Duck was a rare fellow. You 
could not commonly get a man who understood 
horses and donkeys, and was willing to do rough 
work, who could also play whistles and work up 
a drum. Duck really took the place of two men ; 
it would have been very foolish to lose him. 

I found my place at our show was taken up by 
two persons. The old *un hired one of the gads to 
tout. This man was always dry, and it took him 
a long time to get his half-pint, which he wanted 
every hour. My aunt also got a woman to help 
her with the children and pack the van, which I 
used to do, as well as other work. The gad's tout- 
ing was not good, and the woman was awkward. 
The cash results of the first fair-season after I left 
were very bad. Besides which, the old 'un had to 
set up the figures, and work did not agree very 
well with his temper now. 

My aunt told the old 'un he had better try to 
get me back, or she was sure he would make 
nothing of the show the following season. He 
157 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

said he did not like the job ; she had better try. 
She agreed that she would try if he failed. 

He slipped out at fhe back of his show, and 
waited for a slack time with the shiers. He then 
called me aside, and said he was awfully sorry he 
hit me so hard. I said, *'I believe you, just 
because it has cost you something ; but if I am 
careless, I am sure I am no good to you." He 
said I must forget what he said in court ; that he 
would now take me back on quite new terms, that 
would please me. I thanked him, but I said, " I 
am pretty comfortable at present. I am now 
earning twelve bob a week, whereas with you I 
never got a shilling. I have quite made up my 
mind to chuck up your show. I have got one ear 
all right now, and I should like, if you have no 
objections, to keep out of the risk of losing it." 

At this moment a stick came flying over the old 
'un's head at about half a yard from it, and then 
another still closer to his face. He slipped behind 
the tent. Baggs called out — 

" Stand still, waxy 'un ; I am only practising a 
bit." 

The old 'un disappeared on the practical hint 
Baggs had given him that his presence was objec- 
tionable. 

Baggs also gave another hint. He had a valu- 
able bull-dog, who took charge of his property by 
night in fair-times, and watched by day to secure 

158 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 



any ^^Jliersl' that is, articles that came over the 
sheet during shying, when they were struck near 
the top of the rods. To this dog Baggs had said 
"Clearum!" by which that animal appeared to 
know that he was desired to move 
towards the old un s legs. The 
hint appeared to be taken^ for the 
old 'un whipped into hts tent pretty 
sharp, and did n^.^t appear again. 

My aunt 
afterwards 
saw me, but I 
said I should 
try it on a bit. 
As I was care- 
less, the old 
'un ought to 
pack the van 
better than I 
could. I was 
well known, 
and I might 
get a better 
place. That 
though I was 
fond of her and Lizzie, the old 'un was too much 
to put up with. She said, that he said I was care- 
less to save himself, and she would make him swear 
to her that he would never strike me again if I 
159 




Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

would return. He would also give me wages. I 
said I had not got over the last little touch of his 
kindness, and certainly could not venture yet, 
whatever I might do at a future time when I could 
forget it. She tried all she could, but did not 
move me. 

After the first fair-day with Baggs we went to 
sleep at the Traveller's Home, which was the name 
given to the lowest beer-shop just out of the town. 
It had formerly been an inn before coaching times, 
and a little blur on the sign, which still hung out, 
showed something of the form of a man's head. 
Within the bar a sad daub in oil-paint of a portrait, 
perhaps of a former proprietor, had " The King's 
Head " written in large letters over it, so that this 
was evidently the original name of the house. I 
found the place full of rough men and women, who 
were swearing and chaffing each other in the most 
obscene language, which told me that, although my 
place in the scale of society might be pretty low 
with the waxy 'un, still there was a much lower 
grade that, despite my intimate connection with 
rough fair-life, shocked me, as my aunt had always 
tried to keep me from such society. 

As soon as Baggs entered the inn Sal Grimes 
and Mrs. Mackin, who had evidently been quarrel- 
ling together, came up to him and wanted to make 
him umpire in their dispute. But as they were 
both talking loudly at one time he could make 
160 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 

nothing of it. I was very surprised to see Mrs. 
Mackin here, as she was the wife of a most respect- 
able man, who was owner of the mechanical show. 
I knew he had a bad, dissolute wife, but I did not 
know that she had fallen so low, although I had 
seen her husband once leading her home tipsy at 
night. As Baggs would not take up their quarrel, 
they kept on in their own style. From what I 
could understand of the quarrel, Mrs. Mackin and 
Sal Grimes were drinking pals ; that very re- 
cently Mr. Mackin had brought his wife home late 
at night, when he was followed by Sal ; that after 
a time Sal was missing, and he fancied she might 
have fallen into the ditch by the side of the path, 
which they had passed. Mackin, after he had got 
his wife home, undressed her and got her into bed in 
a sleepy state of half-drunkenness. His conscience 
led him to return to where he last saw Sal. He 
found her, as he expected, in the dry ditch, about 
the place he last saw her. She was unable to 
struggle out He got her up, and saw her back to 
the fair, where she drifted herself under the border 
of a tent, where she evidently meant to stay for the 
night. Some one of the loose show-people told 
Mrs. Mackin that they saw Mackin arm-in-arm 
with Sal that night taking her home. She would 
not accept the true explanation given by Mackin, 
but showed that she was jealous of Sal. Sal was 
rather delighted when she saw this, and told 
L i6i 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

Mrs. Mackin, " I do not see why you expect all 
your old man's company to yourself." Upon this 
they came straight to blows, from which they were 
parted by the men present. Mrs. Mackin was 
finally turned out of the house, and Sal Grimes 
kept in. This separation disappointed both com- 
batants. Mrs. Mackin bawled out in the small 
opening of the door, which was under chain, that 
she should be ready for Sal next morning at four, 
if she had pluck enough to come to the back of 
her booth to have it out. As Mrs. Mackin did not 
move from the doorway, after a time the proprietor 
asked Baggs, who was evidently very familiar 
with her, to see her home. In doing this certain 
arrangements were made, which I will describe 
farther on. 

To return to the bar. As I was new to the 
company, and they thought I had come down a 
bit to join them, there arose a pretended dispute 
with the ladies present as to whom should show 
me to my bedroom door, and many attempts 
were made to embrace me affectionately. The 
whole affair disgusted me, as it would any decent 
boy of fifteen years of age. I should have liked to 
leave the house at once, but it was too late to 
get lodgings elsewhere for the night. 

I was thoroughly exhausted. I therefore joined 
the company at supper. This consisted of a mixed- 
meat stew,, suet dumplings and beer, for which the 
162 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 

fixed price at fair-times, including the pint of beer, 
was one shilling. We had one good helping each 
out of the pot in which the stew had been cooked, 
which was set on a mat upon the table to serve 
from. The pot was then taken away. We were 
left to order pipes and more beer afterwards at 
discretion. 

I determined to get to bed, as my ear ached. I 
asked to see where I could sleep. The landlord 
told me in that room. That was the tap, in which 
we had had supper. He should put down some 
rugs, and I might have a horse-cloth to cover me 
in about two hours' time, for fourpence for the 
night. 

I told him I wanted a bed to myself, as I was 
ill. He replied, " That will cost you a shilling at fair- 
times," and he was not sure he had one. Upon his 
calling inside, his wife told him there was one room 
unoccupied. I was very sleepy, and, my ear being 
bad, I agreed to pay the shilling to get quiet. In 
this way the supper and bed took my whole day's 
wages. 

One of the young women in the tap-room, to keep 
up their silly joking, pretended to want to follow 
me upstairs, and behaved in a manner I did not 
like. This ended in begging sixpence of me, which 
I gave, to get rid of her. 

As soon as I could get into my room I tried to 
lock the door, but as the lock was broken I moved 
163 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

an old chest of drawers that stood near against it. 
I could see, by the deep ruts in the floor, that these 
drawers had frequently been used before for the 
same purpose. I undressed myself and went to 
bed. The sheets were not clean, and, when I got 
in them, they felt warm, as though the bed had 
not been made since the morning. I therefore laid 
quite on the edge, where I tried to sleep. My ear 
continued to ache. I did not get over three hours' 
sound sleep. 

At four o'clock, when it was still nearly dark, 
Baggs came and knocked me up. He said he 
wanted me to help him directly. I was wide awake, 
so I soon dressed myself and was out. Baggs said 
there was a bit of fun on, which I should see, but 
that he could not tell me what it was. I was very 
curious to know about it. He said just to do what 
he asked me, and say nothing. We went to our 
billet, took down our back sheet, which was used 
to stop the sticks going too far, and four stanchions 
which held it, and carried these to the back of 
Mackin's awning. We formed an enclosure with 
our back sheet of about seven feet square. Sal 
Grimes soon came up and looked on. I thought 
she looked very sad. I could see something 
was up. 

At about a quarter to five Mackin and his wife 
came out. She looked very angry. She was 
dressed with a shawl, tight over body and shoulders. 
164 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 



After a few coarse jokes they went into the en- 
closure, and Sal Grimes followed, saying, "Ready!" 

I have spoken of Sal Grimes, but given no 
description of her. She was a short, rather stout 
young woman, of about 
two - and - twenty. Her 
father was Irish, and her 
mother a gipsy. She had 
strong resemblance to 
both parents. She had 
fairly good features. Her 
nose was, perhaps, rather 
short. Her mouth was 
wide, but with pretty full 
lips, and set off with a 
splendid set of white teeth. 
Her eyes were greyish 
hazel. She had a dark, 
clear, florid complexion, and looked the picture of 
robust health. Her hair was auburn, very abund- 
ant, and in stiff, natural curls. I have spoken of 
her drunken brawls, but I must say that her 
excitement under such conditions was more from 
her natural temperament than from the total 
quantity of alcohol she imbibed. Otherwise, she 
would not have retained her health as she did. 

To return to the enclosure that Baggs and I 
made. When they were all in, my curiosity led 
me to peep through a hole in the sheet. There I 

165 




Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

saw Mrs. Mackin and Sal strip off their boots. 
Sal then took off her shawl and a bodice, which 
was held by one button only. Mrs. Mackin 
dropped her shawl. They appeared very thinly 
clad, nearly like fighting-men, and seemed quite to 
understand the orthodox manner of fighting, 
which, no doubt, they had often watched. Mrs. 
Mackin fell back into the arms of Mackin, who 
seemed a little indifferent to the whole proceed- 
ings. Sal fell into the arms of Baggs at the 
opposite comer of the tent. 

Baggs and Mackin agreed that it should be one 
round only, and that whoever threw the other 
should be victor, and there should be no foul 
blows on the bosom or they would stop it at once. 

" I mean to wound her if I can," Mrs. Mackin 
said, with a grin. 

"Ready!" Sal replied. 

They run upon each other for the short distance 
they had between them, like mad women, and 
made an attempt to black each other's eyes, which 
failed. They then fell to scratching each other's 
face, but soon closed together as boys do in fight- 
ing, and fell to tearing each other's back, driving 
and kicking at the same time in attempting to 
throw each other over. At last Mrs. Mackin, who 
was the taller woman, dropped her hold of Sal, 
and, catching her by the leg, threw her. Sal, 
catching Mrs. Mackin's arm at the same moment, 
1 66 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 

pulled her down on top. They both fought and 
scratched each other on the ground until the men 
could pull them asunder. 

The men agreed that Mrs. Mackin was the 
victor, and would not allow them to fight any more. 

Baggs helped Sal dress and took her off. Mackin 
took his wife in and dressed her wounds — they said 
afterwards, with salt and water, to prevent the 
effect of the venom of Sal's dirty claws. This 
made her bawl out enough to be heard for some 
distance outside the show. 

I ought to say of Mr. Mackin, who was placed 
in what we must consider a most degraded position, 
that Mrs. Mackin had told him that if he would 
not be her second that she would slip off to the 
fields and have another man, whom she named, 
to back her. She also told him if this happened 
she meant to have a fight with him afterwards 
at home. They had had some fights before, and 
it was quite proved, beyond all dispute, that Mrs. 
Mackin always got the best of it. So he felt shy. 
Otherwise, Mackin was a quiet, inoffensive fellow, 
who had become quite hardened to his wife's 
wickedness. He therefore tried to make the best 
of it, as he found there was no possible redress 
for him by the laws of his country. He knew, 
of course, there was the divorce law, which the 
evidence he possessed quite came within, but he 
also knew that this law was made entirely for 
167 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

rich folk, and, certainly, was not intended to 
reach his class, who most needed it. He there- 
fore looked quite philosophically on the matter 
as being legally beyond hope. As an instance of 
this, I noticed him, while the fight was going on, 
secretly take a model of a little machine he was 
making from his pocket and give it two or three 
turns to study its action. When Baggs called out 
to him to part the combatants he slipped his 
machine into his pocket again, helped to part 
them, and took his wife in without saying a word. 

I suppose, ye wise and great who rule the con- 
ventionalities of society, and of polite literature 
in particular, will think that our Mr. Saunders 
might have changed this matter into a duel, in 
which Mr. Mackin and Mr. Baggs, the gallant 
of Sarah Grimes, might have entered into mortal 
combat. Well, we know even murder is quite ad- 
missible in polite literature. But look at the matter 
humanely. Even if it be taken as a tale and not as 
a truth, was it not much better that two bad women 
should scratch each other a bit than that a better 
creature should be killed in a duel ? Think of 
poor Mackin, a man of mechanical mind, with no 
ideas whatever of fighting, so that he must, for 
this reason, in any duel, have become the dead 
man. Think again that his widow must ultimately 
have been the sufferer, for Mrs. Mackin had no 
idea of possessing any disposable property for a 
1 68 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 



long time, that Mackin might have left her. Should 
she die of starvation ? No ; she was saved ! 

Otherwise, in the case before us, it is pleasant 
to reflect that although the ladies above mentioned 
had a drunken 
quarrel, with the 
not very unusual 
ending at this 
period, among 
the lowest class, 
of a fight, still 
they afterwards 
remembered 
that they had 
been formerly 
dear friends, and 
partly through 
the influence of 
their mutual and 
most intimate 
friend, Mr. 
Baggs, they 
made up all 
their differences ; so that these ladies, after taking 
a glass of gin together, a week afterwards, were 
found embracing each other most affectionately 
in the public-house, that all the world who was 
interested in the matter might know the continued 
fondness of their attachment, and that there was 
169 




Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

now no envy or malice left between them — despite 
their little quarrel. 

We moved on to the next fair. I told Baggs 
that my two shillings a day would not hold out 
against expenses, and that I liad been promised 
by one of the gads that when my head was out of 
the rag he intended to flatten down my nose for 
taking my back place for two bob a day, which 
before was always paid two-and-six or three bob 
to the other gads. Baggs said my work was 
straight on ; as I did the pushing of the barrow on 
odd days, he would pay no more. 

Baggs suggested I could not expect to move 
in his class of society. This I had decided not 
to do, on my own account. I found I could live 
much cheaper. I could get nice lodgings at an 
inn out of the town where the fairs were held, for 
sixpence a night ; plenty of bread and milk, or 
bread, butter, and eggs for breakfast, for three- 
pence ; a good dinner for fivepence ; and bread and 
cheese and beer for supper, for threepence. Say 
one-and-six a day. 

At the next fair it had been cold in the night 
and my ear felt too bad in the morning to go to 
work, so I decided to see the doctor. He found 
an abscess had formed, for which he gave me some 
drops to put in it. I kept about that day as long 
as I could, then went to bed early and got the 
landlady to get me gruel for my supper. 
170 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



LOW FAIR-LIFE 

My aunt, seeing me bad in the day, came to see 
me, and brought Lizzie with her. When I heard 
my aunt's voice downstairs I thought she had 
come again to persuade me to return, which I 
dreaded and intended to oppose. When she 
entered she said, '* I have come to see you, my 
poor boy ! " Lizzie held out her arms to come 
to me, saying, ** Dear Billie ! " When I took her 
she huddled up to me. My aunt said at once, 
" I have not come to ask you to come back." As 
soon as she said this I felt sorry for it, which is 
very curious, as only a minute before I dreaded 
being asked to go back. She told me of all the 
affairs of the show, and said she was sure what had 
happened would be for the best, if I recovered my 
hearing in the injured ear. My uncle, she felt 
sure, had become a wiser and a better man. She 
was certain I never need fear his violence again. 

It was better, also, that I should gain some 
experience in the world, so that if I came back 
at a future time we should all be happier together. 
She said she was nearly worn out herself, but that 
if I were very ill and wanted her she would be sure 
to try to come to me. 

My aunt then said there was another matter she 
came about that troubled her. She heard I had 
slept at the Traveller's Home, which she did not 
consider respectable for me to do, although she 
knew I was led there by Baggs. She advised me 
171 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

not to be influenced by this man or by his com- 
panions, including Mrs. Mackin, whom she very 
much disliked. She said that from my being 
always with her she looked upon me as a son, and 
a boy could only grow up to be a true upright man, 
which she hoped I would, by avoiding such society. 
She kissed me on the forehead and took Lizzie 
away, who still clung to me. No doubt she had 
missed me for her playmate. She carried her crying 
downstairs. The sight of Lizzie and the thought 
of her affection for me filled my heart with gladness. 



172 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CHAPTER XII 



UPPER-CLASS FAIR-FOLK 



OING on, after a day's 
rest at Drayham, where 
we were staying, as I felt 
very queer, I moved on 
very slowly to catch the 
fair-folk up at Hard ley 
Heath. I found my 
place filled up with Baggs 
by one of our gads, for 
which I was not sorry. 
I thought I would walk 
round the fair to see my 
old friends and advertise 
myself for a vacant place 
in one of the respectable 
shows, or try if I could 
get a fixed place in the town. For this last, I was 
told that no reference to the fair-folk would be of 
any use to me. 

173 




Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

I saw Megton, of the fat woman and dwarf show, 
standing at the entrance of the show. He asked 
me in, as I knew him very well. We were first 
acquainted through Mrs. Megton constantly bor- 
rowing one of my aunt's pillows in the day-time 
to make up the fat woman. This used to be a 
sore point with my aunt, as Mrs. Megton was not 
so clean as my aunt. I used often to be sent to 
fetch it home. My aunt afterwards told the old 
'un of the annoyance, as she thought the Megtons 
could afford to buy themselves an extra pillow. The 
old 'un put a stop to it. This caused a coolness 
between my aunt and Mrs. Megton, of which my 
aunt, being formerly the sufferer, was very glad. 

The fat woman, who was the wife of Megton's 
hostler, was really very fat, but not nearly so much 
so as she appeared in the show, or of half the size 
she was shown on the picture outside. She had 
three pillows bound about her body, and her stock- 
ings and the upper parts of her arms were padded. 

The dwarf was a very interesting little fellow, 
rather clever at painting and making pretty speci- 
mens of writing. I understood he was of a family 
who were bred especially for show-people. His low 
stature was partly through deformity. He was 
said to be the offspring of a very short family 
who were bred from near relations ; that he had not 
a perfect solid bone in his body. In his infancy 
he had been tied down of a night to keep him 
174 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



UPPER-CLASS FAIR-FOLK 

short, and had been given as much gin daily as he 
could take without injury. Mr. Megton said he 
did not go through the dwarfs rearing process him- 
self, but that he had heard of it. He gave twenty- 
five pounds for him when he was ten years old. 
The sale took the form of apprenticeship. He was 
a little over three feet high. He had a brother 
three inches shorter than himself, who was said to 
be sold for one hundred and fifty pounds. This 
was the "Tom Thumb" of the period. The 
learned pig was also in the show. It was curious 
to see how much intelligence could be instilled 
into so dull an animal. The pig was taught to 
stop at nine positions of cards placed in a large 
circle on the floor. When asked, " How many 
days a week would you like to work ? " he would 
go three times round the circle of cards and then 
stop in the centre and shake his head. The show- 
man could see he did not like work. Asked again 
to "tell the nearest," he would stop at the ace. 
Asked, " How many days a week would you like 
your master to work?" he would stop at the 
seven. Other queries brought in some features 
of the other cards. Besides his card tricks, the 
pig was represented to have the wonderful instinct 
to find out the most suitable sweethearts from the 
young men and women in the show. How he was 
trained to stop at the young men and young 
women present I cannot tell. 
175 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

Megton told me he would look out for a place 
for me among the show-people. 

I then called in at the boxing-booth, although I 
had no taste for the art. I thought possibly the 
boxers might take me on for touting, which was 
my forte. The boxing-booth was said to be the 
property of Tom Sayers, who was represented by a 
painting outside to be fighting with the American 
champion, Heenan. A few other gents of the 
fancy, who were handy with their fives, were 
associated with the concern. Ned Moody, our 
county wrestler, was portrayed outside demolish- 
ing Bill Pork, commonly known as Porkey of the 
next county. A few of our strong lads came up 
on invitation to have a spar or a turn at wrestling 
by payment of a shilling. They were generally 
made uncomfortable for the rest of the day, giving 
at the same time amusement to the spectators, 
among whom the old 'un would sometimes slink in 
between his performance, as he really loved the 
noble art, as it was then termed. This was much 
to the disgust of my aunt. The boxing firm did 
not appear to object to employ me, but I should 
have had to take some of the sparring, in the learn- 
ing of which I might get a few taps, and at best, 
very little pay. I did not take this berth. 

After this, I thought of Langston Brothers' 
wild beast show. This was the largest and most 
important in the fair. It occupied the width of 
176 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 




M 



177 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

three vans. On the outside upon a number of 
canvases, which united to form one picture, there 
were paintings representing all the animals found 
in children's natural history books. There were 
lions, tiger, leopard, lynx, elephant, giraffe, zebra, 
bison, camel, monkeys, wolves, and so forth, and 
even what appeared to be a unicorn at the back. 
These animals were all in a state of violent activity, 
the lynx springing forward to the front to devour 
a fawn, the bison tossing the leopard, a snake 
springing upon the zebra, the elephant being 
attacked by the tiger, and a man and lion fight 

The inside was somewhat tame in comparison 
with the outside pictures, but still it was a very 
respectable show. The animals were all in cages, 
packed very closely. The cages contained a lion 
and lioness, a tiger, a lynx, a bear, two wolves, 
three monkeys, and a yellow snake. There were 
also a number of English wild animals, an otter, a 
badger, a fox, a polecat, and some common smaller 
wild animals. One striking feature was a camel, 
who walked about the show among the visitors, 
soliciting biscuits and buns, which could be bought 
at a stall in the corner of the booth. This show 
attended the larger fairs only, and generally re- 
mained a week or more in one place. 

When I called at the show I saw Mr. Thomas 
Langston, who knew me from a little boy. He 
gave me a place at once, as cleaner-out. He said 

178 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



UPPER-CLASS FAIR-FOLK 



it might suit me for a time till I saw something 
better. He had been obliged to discharge the 
constantly half-drunken gad who held this place 
before. My employment was to keep the animal 
cages clean and help generally. I did not like it 
much, although the animals were safe enough in 
cages. If I did 
not look very 
sharp I often 
got a scratch. I 
thought I was 
quite clear of 
the monkey 
cage, when one 
day a long- 
armed ape 
caught my arm 
through the bars, 
pulled hard to 
bite it, and gave 
it a nasty nip 
with his nails. 

There was great 
pleasure in working for 
Langston Brothers. If you looked sharp with your 
work, they were very kind and did not swear at 
you. Mr. Thomas was very jocular. I told him of 
my nip with the ape. He said that was the same 
as shaking hands with me in monkey-land. He 
179 




Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

told me, "You had better not shake hands in 
the usual way with the other animals, even if you 
think you see a sweet smile on their faces." This 
was only a hint to keep clear of the cages. 

Thomas Langston was a single man of about 
fifty. He was the elder of the partners ; of mean 
height, rather thin, with a slight bend in his back. 
He had a long straight nose, full grey eyes, long 
light brown hair, and a fair sandy complexion. 
His beard was left long and seldom cut. He was 
in many ways a remarkable man. He was a good 
zoologist, using the Latin names of animals. The 
learned people in his line of study always called 
upon him to chat wherever he went. They also 
sent their families to his show. He was also a 
very fair taxidermist. Besides the wild animal 
show, he had a museum containing a large number 
of stuffed birds of the rarer English inland species, 
and a collection of eggs of these birds. The birds' 
eggs were the envy of the country collectors and 
village lads, although these eggs were generally 
bought from the lads, who were glad to make 
what money they could for enjoyment at fair-time. 

John Langston, the younger partner in the 
firm, whose portrait appeared outside painted as 
the African lion-tamer, was represented in light 
clothing attacking the lion in the desert single- 
handed. He was a taller and stronger man than 
his brother. The performance inside varied con- 
i8o 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



UPPER-CLASS FAIR-FOLK 

siderably from that shown outside. In the show 
he entered the lion's cage in a cork jacket of about 
three inches in thickness with leggings to match, 
covered outside with small thin plates of steel. 
This interior dress was invisible to the public, as it 
was covered by a light clown's dress. The cage 
was small, and John kept by the side of the lion, 
without at any time facing him. He carried a 
whip at each end of which there was a steel point. 
During the performance, his brother had a short 
rifle kept constantly sighted on the lion for John's 
protection. Under these conditions the lion per- 
formed by opening his mouth and showing his 
teeth. He also gave his paw and suffered the lion- 
tamer to get on his back, supported by the foot 
away from the spectators. Of course, greater per- 
formances are given at greater shows, but this was 
considered to be very good for a travelling show 
visiting fairs. 

Thomas Langston was a great friend of Hack- 
worth, who helped him with his Latin. Mackin 
also joined in this friendship, as all the three had 
intelligent tastes. Their only point of disagree- 
ment appeared to be on religious subjects. There- 
fore, as natural, this subject appeared to be the 
general drift of their conversation. Thomas Lang- 
ston was a deist, who saw the hand of God in the 
unity of nature, which advanced always towards 
perfection. Mackin doubted this ; he thought every 
i8i 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

animal, including man, had to take care of himself. 
If God had anything to do with it, a lot were wanted 
of gods to direct the details. He thought poly- 
theism more probable. Hackworth said all these 
things became clear if they set the true value upon 
revelation, and he pressed the others to listen to 
learned men in the pulpit. These discussions 
possibly expanded the minds of all three of them. 
The differences never advanced to agreement 
in theological matters, but, being all sensible men, 
it never led to coolness in friendship, as they 
could each acknowledge the dignity of opinion in 
the other. 

Except my aunt, who held religion in her heart, 
but not by any outward form of public wor- 
ship, our people were nearly agnostic. God was 
always associated with damn ; the Deity being 
considered as a kind of jailer who could be 
ordered to punish everyone who offended the 
speaker. 

Speaking of the three intelligent men we have 
named, it may be asked whether they were not 
exceptional among fair-folk. It may be so now 
that the fair has ceased to be a popular institu- 
tion, such as it was "before the spread of rail- 
ways, when it formed the yearly market for 
light goods and ornaments in all country districts. 
At the time I am mentioning, many fair-folk were 
wealthy, and there was quite sufficient competi- 
182 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



UPPER-CLASS FAIR-FOLK 

tion among them for intelligent men to be drawn 
into this business. 

As regards Mackin, the friendship of Thomas 
Langston and Hackworth was held under the con- 
dition that Mrs. Mackin, whom they both dreaded, 
should always be excluded from their company. 
This was no difficulty, as Mrs. Mackin preferred 
dancing, where she lifted up her skirts much above 
the average height, or joined in any vulgar sport in 
the fairs, to any other society. She was also very 
intimate with the fighting-men. It was fortunate 
for poor Mackin that she took sufficient drink for 
her excitement early in the day, for she always 
appeared in the box to take the money at his show 
in the morning. This money she carried off to 
enjoy herself in her own style, when she had as 
much as she would care to spend during the day. 
Mackin had to use the greatest economy with the 
money he got in the afternoon and to work very 
hard to keep the show going. 

Mrs. Mackin was very good-looking at this time 
and of about thirty years of age. Her face was of 
a well-formed Eastern type with sparkling black 
eyes. She had abundance of black hair, which 
curled naturally and formed a complete bush 
round her head. She was of a gipsy family. 
When she was married to Mackin she was only 
seventeen. 

Her father was a fiddler who attended dancing- 

183 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

booths and rooms at the smaller fairs. Mrs. 
Mackin« when single, played the tambourine. 
This she now sometimes took in hand at the 
dancing-booths in the fairs, where Mackin's show 
was also present. 

Mackin's mechanical show consisted entirely of 
machines that he had made himself with the help 
of an apprentice, and before marriage sometimes 
with employment of a workman. The style of 
work would not be called high-class engineering, 
but there was a certain merit in every machine that 
it was a good working model. Besides two steam- 
engines of different types, there was a locomotive 
which carried a train round the show ; a Jacquard 
loom, which wove a silk ribbon with a small flower 
pattern ; a diving-bell in which two dressed dolls 
were seated, which came out of a tub of water after 
immersion quite dry, which was very incomprehen- 
sible to the country folk ; the model of a steam-boat, 
which worked so far as to turn the paddles round 
under a sheet of glass which represented the surface 
of water; an automatic doll which danced and 
said, "ma! ma I" an electrical machine which 
gave the audience shocks, and some other machines 
and mechanical devices. Every minute Mackin 
could spare from the show he was at work, and 
late at night also when he was waiting for Mrs. 
Mackin's return home to bed, if he had not to 
fetch her back to his tent. 

184 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



UPPER-CLASS FAIR-FOLK 

Mackin's mechanical show was formerly located 
in towns, where it remained three or four months 
at a time. Mrs. Mackin could not bear town life. 
She said the close walls choked her ; she could only 
live in air or under canvas in summer time. She 
took to drinking in the town shortly after they 
were married to get up the excitement which 
appeared to be necessary for her temperament, as 
she had been brought up under the variable con- 
ditions of wandering fair-life. She did not appear 
to drink to excess, but only for the excitement. 
Excessive drinking is very exceptional among 
gipsy women. The Mackins in early marriage life 
had a baby, which fared the common fate of poor 
sotting women's infants. It fell out of Mrs. Mackin's 
arms when she was tipsy and got bruised. She 
made it stupid and emaciated with sips of gin, and 
exposed it to the cold late at night when she was 
enjoying herself in her own way. At six months 
old it had whooping-cough and died suddenly. 

My aunt took constant interest in me although 
I was away from her. Finding the chance of 
an interview with me she inquired how I 
liked my place? She did not ask me to return, 
although I knew she wished it I told her 
the objections I have mentioned to the wild 
beast show. 

In the following week, by some arrangement 
1 8s 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

that I fancy she made, Mr. Thomas Langston told 
me he should not want my services after the follow- 
ing week. He said he considered the place was 
not good enough for me. It was a dirty job and I 
had been taught by my aunt to be a clean lad. 
Although I was only dressed in a smock-frock, I 
suppose I had a superior look to the rough lads 
who generally filled my office in the firm. 



1 86 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CHAPTER XIII 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 




rMMEDIATELY after Messrs. 
Langston gave me notice 
to leave, I saw Mr. Robinson 
of the dramatic show, who said 
he ha^ a berth open for me. 
This I took after the week was 
up at ten shillings a week. The 
money was low as I was to be a learner in the show. 
I was a little surprised that, as soon as I entered 
Robinson's show, I had to take part in a comedy 
which lasted for five to ten minutes. I felt sure I 
could not learn the words, although my memory 
was much better in this direction than my uncle's. 
I did not, however, find the learning so difficult as 
I thought, as Mr. Hackworth played my part over 
several times before me. I remembered most of it 
before I had read it ; indeed, if I had not done so, 
my small amount of learning would not have per- 
mitted me to read his writing. 

187 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

I may give a short description of Robinson's 
stage arrangement. One of his vans was called the 
"stage van." The length of this van was quite 
thirteen feet. It was about six feet in width and 
eight feet in height. The wheels were small, and 
were placed quite under the van. It required 
two horses to draw it. Taken altogether it was 
a complicated piece of work. One entire side 
of the van, except about one foot in width at 
each end, opened outwards in two large doors 
or canvas frames, which met together in the 
centre when they were closed. When the doors 
were opened the width of the van appeared to 
be extended to twenty feet. In the inside of 
each of these doors there appeared, when opened 
out and set at an angle, the representation in 
painting of a stage-box, in which very stylish 
people, dressed in the brightest colours, were 
sitting at their ease watching the play. After the 
doors were opened a flap at the bottom of the 
van turned outward, which extended the depth 
of the floor-surface or stage three feet, making 
the entire depth nine feet. The width of stage 
between the doors when opened was eleven feet. 
At the back of the stage van, that is the inside 
away from the audience, were two scenes on 
rollers, either of which could be pulled down as 
required. One was of a forest, the other of the 
exterior of a building. When both were pulled up 
i88 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

there appeared the interior of a cottage, painted 
on the inside of the van. There was a door for 
entrances and exits at each end of the van. About 
five persons could play at once on the stage. 

The outside of the van away from the stage 
front, which was open to the fair, had also a pair of 
light doors (side-flies) ; these, in combination with 
the outside of the van, were painted to represent the 
interior of a London theatre. A boarded stage on 
trestles was placed on the fair side, where parts 
of the performance were acted or the clown 
played tricks. 

The second van on the fair side had similar 
paintings to that described, and was brought up 
to the same surface, so that the whole, combined 
to represent the interior of a London theatre, 
was about forty feet in width. This van not 
being used as a stage van was fitted up as a 
bedroom for the Robinson family. 

When we have said that Mr. Robinson bought 
his tragedies of Mr. Hackworth, it must not be 
understood that he ever intended to play them 
as they were written, even when they were cut 
down to the proper dimensions to be played right 
off in ten minutes on the show stage. No, nothing 
of the kind ! This would have been impossible, or 
at least impossible to Mr. Robinson. Let us just 
consider the circumstances under which that 
gentleman was placed : First of all, he was stage- 
189 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

carpenter, and this position was by no means 
perfunctory. He had not only his stage to 
entirely, erect in the surrounding tent, with the 
decorations, seats for the audience, and the busi- 
ness of keeping in order a great number of very 
troublesome oil lamps; but he was scene- and 
property-shifter also. And when the fair was 
over he had to pack and shift off everything. 
Then he was stage-manager, in which capacity 
he had to instil his natural eloquence into the 
rather raw native talent of his players. Further, 
he undertook all the advertisement department 
upon himself, which consisted of touting outside 
his show a full description of the entire dramatic 
performances that were to be given within, which 
was at all times "just about to commence.'' 
Under these conditions, with the somewhat com- 
plex domestic arrangements of a home in a van, 
it became difficult to conceive how he could find 
time to learn anything whatever, or to bring out 
any new play. 

We may ask what was the use of Mr. Robinson 
buying tragedies of Mr. Hackworth under the 
above-stated difficulties of performances? Well, 
the newness of the play was estimated by the 
newness of the plot, and if Mr. Robinson could 
make the changes so as to have fresh startling 
effects every fair season, this was all he cared for. 
As for a king's speech, or a robber's, or a forlorn 
190 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

father's, or an ardent lover's, or a dying villain's, 
or such like, have we not all these stereotyped in 
the best editions of our plays ? Robinson learnt 
all these fine speeches when he was. a boy in words 
and style best suited for a fair-audience, and no 
matter how the plot 
changed they always 
exactly fitted in. 
Under these condi- 
tions there were at iP^r" ^1 
most only little bits m'''^^^' 
of dialogue to learn y'Bff yjk^ 
between the set 
speeches, which 
could be conned 
over just before the 
performance. But 
we had better go on 
with a sketch of the 
plays. As the great 
bard says, " The 
play is the thing." 

The comedy in which I played was written, I 
believe, expressly for me. I appeared as a very 
soft country lad, whom a sharp Londoner fancied 
he could take in. Mr. Hackworth was the 
Londoner. I appeared when the curtain was 
drawn up with a young fat pig, which I held 
by a cord tied to his leg. The pig not being 
191 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 




JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

overtrained, did not appear to like his part, 
and therefore squeaked a bit The play com- 
menced — 

Countryman. " Now, gents, buoy a faat poorker 
or a good store peeg." 

Londoner (entering). " Fine pig that. How old 
is he?" 

Con, (laughing aside). " The fool doant knough 
ee's age by ee's size. Ee be aboot tew score/' 

Lon, **No, you are joking; he can't be two 
score." 

Con, " Yeas, ee be a tew score peeg." 

Lon. "I did not think he was so old. What 
a pretty creature ! " (Goes to stroke his head. The 
pig snaps at him.) " Rather savage, isn't he ? " 

Con, " Yeas, ee be pooty shairp for a peeg." 

Lon, " I am so fond of pigs. What do you want 
for him?" 

Con. (thinking he has got a chance). " Ul teake 
thearty bob." 

Lon, " Find I have not got it I will change my 
watch and gold chain for the pig." 

Con, " Doant knough aboot thart." (Takes the 
watch and chain and looks at it.) "There, very 
weel ; be ut a bargain. Teake the peeg." (Lets 
the pig loose, and it then runs away.) 

Lon, " I haven't got the pig." 

Con, " Waal, I guv he oop ter yen" 

Lon, " Give me back my watch." 
192 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

Con, " Noa, I doant — cotch the peeg." 

Londoner strips to fight. 

Countryman knocks him down, and flourishes 
the watch and chain over him. 

Con, " You be done now, old 'un." 
. Lon. " There ain't no works in the watch." 

Countryman throws the watch at him and keeps 
the chain. 

Londoner gets up and takes another chain out of 
his pocket, and puts it on the watch-case, and says, 
" I am not done so much as you think." 

The pig is brought in at the side, and the 
countryman gives a broad grin as the curtain 
falls. 

Upon the applause of the audience, Mr. Hack- 
worth pulls me in the front of the curtain, and 
the missus shows the pig at the side amid much 
clapping. I received kind encouragement by my 
friends calling out, ** Go it, Bill." 

The poor kind of stuff of this farce appears to 
have quite satisfied the uneducated country-folk. 
The Londoner not knowing the age of a pig at 
sight, and thinking his weight in pounds was his 
age in weeks or months, although very silly, was 
considered a good joke. A countryman deceiv- 
ing a Londoner was also highly appreciated. 
Whether the embezzled chain, which was a bit 
of clock chain, worth a penny, was estimated at 
its true cost, I cannot say. 
N 193 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

Whatever effect my performance may have had 
upon the audience, I know it had a powerful effect 
upon me. I never before felt myself to be so 
important; my ambition at once rose to great 
height in my new profession. I felt I might rise 
to the high position of a growler in one of Mr. 
Hackworth's tragedies, or represent a king or a 
stockbroker or some other grand person in a 
play. 

"The Brigand Chief, or the Mortal Combat" 
was our tragedy upon the day I mention, which 
followed the comedy already given. In this piece 
the whole of our company were engaged, including 
Mrs. Robinson and the baby. I had no speech to 
make, that is, I had only a few words to say. I 
wore a broad flapped hat with feathers, and a 
green cloth coat with gilt buttons, so that I felt 
myself to be very important Otherwise I was 
at home in this costume, as it reminded me of our 
"Robbers in a cave dividing the spoil." The 
brigand chief, Mr. Robinson, and I, his captain, 
were upon the scene when the curtain was drawn 
aside. He commenced — 

"The silver moon, skimming o'er a dark blue 
rift in the o'ercast sky, will soon be swallowed in 
the dense black clouds that gather round. Beyond 
the lengthening shadow of the frowning forest o'er 
the hill, we stand and wait the bounteous smiles 
that fortune gives. As the coming storm springs 
194 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

forth from its darkness this shall be our guide. 
The chieftain ever to his heart is true." 

I am not sure what the last part of the sentence 
had to do with the subject, and I will not set down 
the discourse of the tragedy any further, but only 
say it was suffused with grand words. Further, 
we presume that the above was comprehensible 
to the audience. It is quite right in one way. 
It is the fashion always to introduce conversation 
by the state of the weather. We say " a fine day " 
to our friend quite in confidence, as we assume him 
to be such a fool he cannot see it for himself. In our 
tragedy we used generally a great many superla- 
tive adjectives, that had nothing conceivable to 
do with the subject, but in compensation our neces- 
sary words were rather scarce when we came to the 
interesting part of the play. Really ! what can you 
expect in a tragedy played in ten minutes or so ? 

The highwaymen were the heroes of this tragedy. 
What we took from the rich we were very bounti- 
ful in giving away to all the beggars we came across. 
These gifts consisted entirely of brass theatrical 
sovereigns, of which it was nothing for us to give 
a beggar a whole handful. We were a jolly set 
of fellows, a little fond of human sport, such 
as pistol shooting. There appeared from our 
liberality to be no element of selfishness in our 
characters. Space will permit me to give the 
final scene only of our tragedy. 

195 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

In the original, as it was written by Mr. Hack- 
worth, in the final scene a carriage was stopped by 
brigands in a forest. There was a considerable 
amount of fighting, after which the travellers were 
defeated and plundered. Two mortal combats 
formed a fine tableau very suitable for a provincial 
stage. In our stage of eleven feet by nine the 
tragedy necessarily received considerable adapta- 
tion. Instead of the carriage and a company of 
travellers arriving on the stage, one respectable 
traveller only appeared, Sir Augustus Praxton, 
represented by Mr. Hackworth. We had to infer 
that the carriage was stopped a short distance oflF, 
and that Sir Augustus had wandered into the 
forest for purposes of which we had no particulars 
given — possibly in search of botanical specimens. 
He is met by the brigand chief and his captain. 
The chief demands — 

"Stand and deliver! Your money or your 
life ! " The last sentence is not strictly logical ; we 
meant, " Your money, or your money and your life," 
as the money was without doubt the sine quA non. 

The brigand chief, at the moment he makes his 
demand, draws a short sword. I retire to leave 
room on the stage. The respectable traveller 
happens to bave a sword of just the same make 
concealed under his cloak. He therefore pulls it 
out to defend himself. The brigand chief and the 
traveller fight together somewhat after the manner 
196 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

of sharpening a dinner-knife on a steel until sparks 
fly wildly from their weapons. After about two 
minutes' fighting the respectable traveller is killed. 
My chieftain at this instant says — 
. " Die, villain !" 

L This term of villain appeared to me rather hard 
ppon Sir Augustus, as we had nothing in the 
tragedy to infer villainy. The most serious fault 
ath-ibuted to this gentleman was that he had refused 
to give his daughter's hand to a penniless adven- 
turer who, fbr pecuniary reasons, no doubt, said he 
loved her. But I may say in our plays generally 
we had little sympathy with prudent parents — 
rather the reverse. Our admiration of beggary, on 
the other hand, was profound ! 

Upon searching Sir Augustus's person, who had 
to submit to the alternative of " his money and his 
life," we found a bag of coins hanging loosely to 
his waistband, and a pinchbeck watch, with chain 
and seals, hanging out of his pocket. These 
articles of value were easily detached from his per- 
son. We carried them off in our hands, both 
saying simultaneously, " Thank the gods ! " There 
was evidently a slight element of paganism here, 
which shows that our highwaymen had not yet 
attained to modern ideas of theology. 

As we left the scene Sir Augustus's wife and 
child, accompanied by the wife's brother, came in. 
They were supposed to have been left with the 
19; 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

carriage at a short distance off. They mourn the 
death of Sir Augustus in very fine sentimental 
words, in which the silver moon is again brought 
into request, to witness their denouncement of the 
brigands. These kind relations are immediately 
followed by the coachman and groom from the 
carriage. The servants had evidently been hiding 
to save risk of personal injuries. They get into 
theatrical attitude to carry off the body, when the 
curtain falls, amid loud applause. 

In the original tragedy, before adaptation to our 
stage, the brigand captain engages the wife's 
brother, and there is the fine effect of the double 
combat before mentioned. This, of course, was 
impossible for us, both on account of room on 
the stage and of my knowledge of the knife- 
sharpening process with the swords. We could 
not, however, dispense with the wife's brother 
under the circumstances, as the wife and child, 
who were very much upset, had to be led on. 

This kind of play has gone out of polite society. 
We can scarcely now recognise the once popular 
highwaymen of the past, represented by Dick 
Turpin, Paul Clifford, Jack Sheppard, and others. 
The same class of persons as the former highway- 
men have now respectable offices in the city, and 
depend upon the support of the public in bubble 
company promotions, stock-jobbing, and long-firm 
dealings generally, now perfectly secured under 
198 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

the protection of laws too cumbrous and expensive 
for public defence. In revenge, the gentleman 
who now represents the late highwayman, whom 
we may term the " low-wayman," does not obtain 
the respect we used to pay to the original high- 
wayman, except in the polite society in which he 
moves. Our old popular friend was bound to 
have a certain amount of manly courage, and to 
take the risk of the gallows always present before 
him. This the modern low-wayman does not 
experience, but he most certainly deserves it. 

To return to our tragedies, our deaths were gener- 
ally from mortal combats with the short sword. 
If Mr. Hackworth could not bring this into the 
tragedy, it was given as a separate performance ; 
but this Nobbie did not like, as it took up time 
which could not be spared if we were to complete 
the programme in, say, twenty minutes. 

From what Mr. Robinson told me of himself I 
concluded that he was a splendid fencer. He assured 
me that he had worn out two swords. The one he 
had now in use, partly worn, was the third. The 
wearing out of a sword showed the activity and 
skill of the fencer, which appeared to be estimated 
by the number of sparks emitted. He told me, in 
a like manner, of the great example of theatrical 
genius I had before me. He also told me other 
things to the same effect, so that, with his instruc- 
tion, I began to feel myself learned in theatrical 
199 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

art. He assured me that learning playing under 
him was as good as paying t-w-e-n-t-y pounds 
down in London to be put under a first-class per- 
former, who very seldom came up to him in acting. 
I was very interested in all this, except when he 
was not able to pay me my full wages on a Satur- 
day night, which made me sometimes inclined to 
discount it a little. 

After our tragedy came the pantomime, which 
consisted of tricks only which have been repeated 
yearly, for a century on the London stage. These 
we performed as far as our properties would go. 
We had a little dancing, when we had harlequin 
and columbine in our company, otherwise it was 
a little dull to those who had seen better per- 
formances. 

If we had a second day at a large fair our pro- 
gramme was entirely changed. In this second 
performance at this time, I commonly took the 
part of a young woman, as our company was 
deficient of one. My face being smooth and beard- 
less, I was surprised to find how well I looked in a 
wig with long curls. Mrs. Robinson admired me 
much in female character. Hackworth, with my 
aunt's sanction, wrote a piece in which my Lizzie, 
just over two years old, could take a part. All our 
company made a pet of her, but I was her special 
friend. She used to get in at the back of the tent 
and come to me at all times, which, when we were 
200 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

playing, gave some trouble. This had to be 
stopiped, as it interfered with the business. 

In the new comedy, " The True Mother," by Mr. 
Hackworth, two children were lost by straying 
away from the fair. Omitting details, one child 
was found after six months. Both mothers, Mrs. 
Prisilla and Mrs. Angelina, claimed the newly-found 
child. Prisilla, Mrs. Robinson (not at all a nice 
person), and Angelina, myself (the young lady in 
curls), were each ready to take an oath, if necessary, 
that it was her own child. 

Altogether a tame sort of Solomon affair The 
magistrate, Mr. Robinson, who was the Solomon, 
decided that the child should be brought in, and 
the woman to whom she went would evidently be 
the true mother. Lizzie, who had just previously 
seen me in woman's dress, it is needless to say, 
when set down on the stage immediately ran to 
me, climbed up my knees and cuddled up to me, 
laughing. This was sufficient to the audience to 
prove our near relationship. The very objection- 
able mother slinked away amid general derision. 

This piece met with loud applause, particularly 
on account of the dear child's wonderful dramatic 
talent, which was developed at such an early age. 
It is astonishing that this weak matter appeared to 
entirely satisfy the uneducated country-people of 
the time. 

My aunt used sometimes to slip in at the back 

20I 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

of Robinson's show, which she hj^d the privilege of 
doing put of friendship, to see the performance. I 
know this was because she took great interest in 
me, and that she was glad of my success. The 
old 'un never came after I was taken on. He felt 
the miss of me severely, and was annoyed at my 
reported success. He told my aunt that it would 
make me too proud for him to do anything with me, 
if I should return. I am sure he was right in this, 
had it not been for the influence of the kindness of 
my aunt to me, who really always held me within 
her power, if she liked to exert it. 

I was greatly troubled at this period. My aunt's 
little girl, my Lizzie, was taken seriously ill with 
diphtheria. She was nursed in the tent night and 
day, and had the best advice the old 'un could 
obtain. But necessarily she had to be moved along 
by the van, as my aunt moved from fair to fair, 
and the doctor was constantly changed, the last 
doctor writing forward tp the next Her illness 
ended fatally. There was sad loss of life at all 
times among the children of the fair-folk, although 
the parents were generally healthy. The hardy 
ones alone could survive. My little Lizzie was 
always rather delicate. 

I went to the end of the season with the Robin- 
sons. After this, when I returned to our village, 
I was about to try to get employment in the 
town near, when my aunt called upon me at my 
202 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

lodgings to discuss the advisability of my return to 
my uncle's service. 

My uncle, when he came back home from the 
fairs, found that he had saved no more money than 
would be sufficient to carry the family through the 
winter. He had in past years saved fifty to seventy 
pounds in a season over this. My aunt showed 
him that it would not do to go on in the same 
manner another season, as he had become too 
stout to do the work. She persuaded him that 
it would now be a good opportunity to let her 
try to get me back under the plea of helping him 
finish a cottage we left partly built last winter, as 
she said she was sure I liked this kind of work. I 
could also help repair the figures which had received 
many bruises and scratches and tears from un- 
skilful packing by those she had been obliged to 
employ to help her, particularly during Lizzie's 
illness. 

Aunt said to the old 'un, " I could not have him 
in the house again, as he had become an awkward 
lout, and that Cissie " (her first daughter) " was now 
growing a big girl." 

She really sought my independence. 

" If you offer him ten shillings a week for the 
winter months," she suggested, "and fourteen 
shillings for the summer fair-times, I think it 
would be worth his while to take it, if I persuaded 
him to." 

203 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

As my uncle's pockets were empty, and he could 
see no alternative, he felt my aunt was then a wise 
woman, and agreed to these terms, subject to my 
acceptance of them. 

I must say the matter did not rest so much in 
my mind as a monetary transaction as one of senti- 
ment. My aunt had lost my dear little Lizzie, who 
might possibly have been saved if she had continued 
to receive my watchful care, which I gave her even 
when I was doing my work. I saw my aunt " worn 
out," as she said. This I saw to be true in an actual 
more than a popular sense. • I had done what little 
things I Could in secret for her, in spare time, but 
I felt I was wrong in not going back to help her 
altogether, considering how kind she had been to 
me through my childhood, although I might have 
suffered more with the old 'un than I should under 
the present circumstances of return. My aunt was 
now much thinner and weaker than I had seen her 
before, and she had a slight cough. 

There was no doubt that a very large part of my 
aunt's troubles had been the care of her children, 
the youngest of whom, my Lizzie, had been lost, 
I thought, through neglect. These children I had 
always kept my eye on, finding many ways of 
amusing them, so that they should not trouble her 
at her work. 

The boy. Bob, now aged nearly nine, was always 
in mischief. After I left, this talent for mischief, I 
204 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

fancy, was encouraged by Duck, who was quite 
willing at all times to make things as rough as he 
could for the old 'un. One strong propensity the boy 
possessed was to hide behind the figures from his 
little sister in play. This performance used to upset 
both the figures and the old 'un, who bought a thin 
cane, to redress his injuries on the seat of Master 
Bob's corduroys. The lad had also a strong aquatic 
instinct. He always went dead for water, and led 
his sister with him. Whether the water present was 
a river bank, ditch, or even a puddle, he was sure 
to be in it. This mudded his boots and socks, so 
that my aunt was constantly washing and drying 
them, until one day at Stowbridge, when he was 
trying the innocent experiment of converting his 
boots into boats, one of his boots floated down the 
stream out of sight. This caused another dressing 
of the said corduroys, and ended with Master Bob, 
during summer time, going without boots or socks, 
which relieved my aunt of some trouble, as his legs 
could be washed more easily at bed-time than the 
said boots and socks. The aquatic instinct never 
left him. This was clearly seen afterwards, in his 
desire to go to sea. 

I may mention one other trait of Bob's character 
which might be due to ambition to get up in the 
world. This was a constant propensity to climb 
the wheels of the fair-vans and sit on the top of 
them, to the admiration of his sister. The effect of 
205 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

this, from the general muddiness of the wheels, was 
to produce a broad mud -band down the front of his 
smock-frock. This was again a source of cordu- 
roy dressing, and of great trouble to my aunt, who 
was, as I said before, a very clean woman. 

After our return from the fairs, in the following 
winter, the well-to-do uncle who had my aunt 
educated and apprenticed to dressmaking met her 
in our village. He was very shocked to see how 
ill and worn she looked. He afterwards told 
our doctor to call on my aunt at his expense. 
When the doctor called he told her it would be 
necessary for her to take great care of herself, and 
to go through a course of medicine. This annoyed 
the old 'un as an interference with his private 
affairs, but he retained the doctor for advice, which 
he paid for himself He really did not like it to be 
said that he neglected his wife, and he knew her 
value to him. The doctor told the old 'un that my 
aunt could not live another fair-season under can- 
vas, from the effects of cold nights and mornings, 
nor could she work so hard as she evidently had 
done, and be worried at the same time with the 
care of her children. 

The old 'un, knowing he could not get on without 
my aunt, and at the same time, I think, with 
some affection for her in his rough, selfish way, 
promised that they should go into lodgings at fair- 
times, just as the higher class fair-people always do. 
206 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE DRAMATIC SHOW 

In the winter, under the doctor's care, my aunt 
became much better in health. This was also 
maintained in the following summer. She never 
quite recovered her original strength, as it was when 
I left the waxworks. The boy, who was a great 
source of anxiety on account of his mischief, was 
left during the following summer with my aunt's 
father, and sent to the village school. 

I fell in altogether with my aunt's arrangements, 
and remained afterwards with the old 'un, under a 
certain amount of struggle and protest against his 
selfishness, till his death many years later, of which 
I will speak further on. 



207 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CHAPTER XIV 



ONWARDS 



OME tjme after the events 
recorded in the last chapter, 
our show went on much as in 
the previous manner when I 
was working in it, except that I 
now held an independent posi- 
tion. The old 'un and my aunt 
at the country fairs took lodg- 
ings in the town or in a near 
village, and I slept in the show 
to mind it. It was a fine sum- 
mer, and we had a successful 
season. The old 'un had saved 
nearly eighty pounds at the end. With this money 
we finished a pair of cottages just begun, for which 
he had no spare funds left the year before. He 
now possessed, with the cottage he lived in, 
altogether four cottages, three of which were let 
for five shillings a week each. 
208 




Digitized by VjOOQIC 



ONWARDS 

We altered one figure only during the following 
winter ;.this was through the patronage of a bishop. 
The learned people, as I said before, often visited 
the wild beast show at fair-time to chat with 
Thomas Langston, but passed by our show. The 
old 'un was jealous of this, as he had an idea that 
his own show was really the best in the fair. One 

day we heard the Bishop of was in the fair 

with his family. To our great surprise his party 
came into our show. They were followed by a few 
other people, and the show was pretty full. The 
bishop laughed a great deal at the old 'un*s descrip- 
tions ; the other visitors, keeping their eyes on the 
bishop's face, laughed when the bishop laughed. 
The bishop recognised by the style of hairdressing 
that our queens were old barbers' heads. He 
appeared to sympathise with Cromwell, that is, 
with our Cromwell, saying "poor man," and 
then aside " very poor man ! " When he left he 
thanked the old 'un for his attention, and said 
he was very pleased with the show. The old 
'un felt sure the bishop came to laugh at the 
show, and not to see it. He thought his pre- 
tended thanks were only chaff. The truth was 
that the bishop was very much amused with the 
whole affair. His footman told me afterwards 
that he often spoke of it, to entertain his friends, 
quoting the old 'un's words, "Them figgers is," 
and so forth. 

O 209 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

The result of the bishop's visit was that the old 
*un, after having a good look at his face, deter- 
mined in the coming winter he would convert 
one of our murderers into the bishop. This 
murderer, who was dropping out of memory, he 
made as like the bishop as his skill would permit, 
catching some of his prominent features. He 
bought a pair of black silk stockings second-hand, 
and a yard and a half of alpaca to make an apron. 
The modelling he did to the face was very char- 
acteristic of the bishop, so that the visitors said he 
had got a good resemblance. 

I fancy the conversion of a murderer into a 
bishop would form a good pious tale if it were 
properly managed ! The subject in our wax- 
works proved very attractive. I am not sure that 
the bishop felt flattered by our patronage ; other- 
wise our show was going down generally for the 
want of novelties. The old 'un, as he began to 
acquire property, became much more miserly. 
He was unwilling to invest any money in his 
show. 

The second winter after my leaving the old 'un 
on account of his ill-usage, he determined he would 
keep the show going all the year round, as he had 
heard that a lot of money was to be got out of 
waxworks in the suburbs of London in the winter 
time. This would not interfere with our summer 
season. 

210 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



ONWARDS 

The old 'un took a shop in Hackney Road after 
Barnet Fair the sixth September, to try the experi- 
ment for six months from Michaelmas to Ladyday. 
For this he had to pay thirty-five pounds for this 
short time only. He held the conditions of a lease 
at lower rental if he liked to continue the tenancy. 
At this time he determined that if the experiment 
succeeded he would quit fair-life altogether. My 
aunt's bad state of health no doubt influenced this 
decision. 

The old 'un's London show was not a success. 
We were not used to London life. I was a sad 
failure at touting, my generally strong point. The 
youth of the neighbourhood, particularly the 
butcher's boy who worked a few doors off our 
show, was a sad thorn in my side with his chaff. 
The chemist's boy and the grocer's boy, who were 
pals, spent a large part of their master's time in 
attracting other lads round our show. One great 
object of this appeared to be to mock my country 
speech, " Wark oop, gents." They would inquire, 
when things were slack, "Where are the gents? 
Bill an' me ha' both seed it. We wouldn't be * wark 
oops' ag'in ; it's too 'orrid." They said, " Why don't 
you git yer mether to learn you Inglish ? " pre- 
suming, of course that they spoke the English 
language themselves. If I resented their chaff 
by giving one of them a cuff, a shower of mud 
was thrown over the window, which spoilt the 
211 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

appearance of the show for the day, or I had to 
clean it off. 

Finding I was powerless in their hands, I 
thought I would stand at the door quite still 
unless I saw likely customers, as, for instance. 




some well-dressed woman with her daughter or son, 
or a young courting pair looking in the window. 
This quietude did not appear to influence the 
London boys' determination to torment me. 

" I say, Jarge, 'e's all real waxwork, 'e is.'' 

" No, 'e ain't ; I seed 'im move." 

212 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



ONWARDS 

" You fool, don't yer see that*s done by the 
machinery inside." 

.** Look, there he laughs." 

"Don't yer know they does that by pulHn' a 
strin' inside." 

I walk in. They say, " 'Is mether's takin' *im in 
now. Move on, gents ! " 

Another time they told me to " go in an' work 
the bellis, we wants to see 'er pant." They had 
evidently in some way found out our secret for 
producing the breathing action of the chest by 
means of bellows. 

I may say, as regards the mechanism of our 
Sleeping Beauty, that going to London did us some 
service. A clock-maker in Hackney Road offered 
to fit up a strong old spring clock he had by him 
with a motion that would represent the breathing 
of our Sleeping Beauty correctly for thirty-five 
shillings, warranted. This bargain the old 'un 
accepted, and really the clock acted very nicely. 
It became an attraction in our show for ever 
afterwards, and saved my time for touting. 

In the show the old 'un was not a much greater 
success with the London youths than I was. 
They bothered him a good bit, and did not enter 
into his sentiments at all. They told him he was 
wrong about Charles and Cromwell, if he meant 
Charles the First. Cromwell was not there when 
Charles's head was cut off. They asked him, " Are 
213 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

you sure the lot doesn't mean Charles the Second 
cuttin* off Cromweirs 'ed ? the man on the block 
look like a dead 'un." "P'raps it was King 
Charles cuttin' off somebiddy helse's 'ed." 

They lowered the old *un's estimate altogether of 
Bluff King Hal. He now understood Mr. Hack- 
worth's description of this group, where he would 
go wrong before. He thought King Hal had all the 
six queens living with him at one time, from what 
he heard. In this respect he admired his manliness 
and strength to manage them. When the boys 
told him he ought to have put them all follow- 
ing each other with a beautiful execution in 
the middle, he now thought there was more 
than chaff in it. He found, by my aunt looking 
the subject up in a history of England, that the 
boys' version of the subject was nearly right. 

He never again described the Bluff King Hal 
group with his natural eloquence. He seemed to 
have lost all sympathy with it. His ideal of the 
life and character of the king was gone ! He would 
have exchanged this fine group for any smaller 
sensational piece, with another showman, if he had 
got the chance. 

At the end of the London term the old 'un found 
he had lost about forty pounds, which was a great 
grief to him and to my aunt also, for she found it 
did not improve his temper. 

The following three years went on much in the 
214 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



ONWARDS 

old usual manner. Our show did not increase in 
popularity. We had no novelties beyond a few 
conversions. The waxworks became more patched 
up and discoloured by age. The faces had now 
all turned green, brown, or yellow, in the ordinary 
waxy-way by time. 

Cissie was left in charge of her aunt. Miss 
Santon, who had now come to be housekeeper 
to the same uncle who had educated and appren- 
ticed my aunt, Mrs. Joe Smith. This uncle was 
now an old man of about seventy. Parting with 
Cissie, who had been years ago my playmate, who 
was always at home in the winter time, was a sad 
loss to me, as I always felt towards her as a brother. 
I always pictured her afterwards in my mind as a 
little girl, and although I was very fond of my 
aunt's last baby, Lizzie, who was now dead, I 
never felt towards her the same as I did to Cissie. 
The reason of this may have been that I had so 
much less to do with Lizzie. I never washed her, 
or dressed her, or took her out. There was, no 
doubt, another reason ; I was now over twenty 
years of age, and had strong feelings of my own 
to brood over. 

An event occurred at this time that troubled my 
aunt very much. Her boy Bob, who was also left 
with my grandfather to get his education in the town 
school, was now fifteen years of age. The old 'un and 
my aunt were in hopes he would take to the wax- 

2IS 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

line, so as in time to come into his father's show. 
Bob said he hated it, and would have nothing to 
do with fairs. Perhaps he reflected upon the dress- 
ings of his corduroys. It was afterwards thought 
that his grandfather might take him to teach him 
carpentry. This he disliked, and, further, Santon 
had not taken to the boy. About this period some 
sailors, whom he knew, returned to the village after 
a long voyage. Hearing them talk of what they 
had seen gave Bob a strong desire to go to sea. 

When the old 'un found the boy's mind fixed 
upon going to sea, he wanted to apprentice him, 
but the sailors persuaded him from this. They 
told him he would learn no more than a ship- 
boy would, and if he got a hard captain would 
learn much less, and have a rough time of it The 
sailors had booked themselves for a voyage to 
Australia, to leave the following week, and if the 
old 'un liked they thought they could get the lad 
on as cabin-boy in the same ship, where they 
could take care of him. In this position he could 
leave after one voyage if he did not like the sea. 
My aunt and the old 'un thought this would be as 
well. He might possibly come home willing to 
settle to their business afterwards. 

When Bob got to Australia he wrote home that 

the captain he went out with was a beast ; he 

could not return home with him ; that he had 

deserted the ship, and was at the time off to the 

216 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



ONWARDS 

gold diggings, which were just discovered at 
Ballarat Some other fellows from the ship were 
going with him. He said he would write home after 
a time. He was very hard up, so he hoped they 
would send him twenty pounds, through some 
agents he found out, who would forward it to 
him. I will speak generally of his proceedings in 
Australia further on. 

I may now mention some of my own affairs, 
which happened only a few years after the last 
incident mentioned above. 

Through my uncle and aunt's friendship with the 
Robinsons, of our adjoining show, I became also 
intimate with their family. Mrs. Robinson had 
four children then living, including the baby-boy, 
who was two years old. The two eldest of the 
family I never saw much of They were always 
left at home in the village where they lived, during 
my time with the old 'un. This was at nine miles 
from Stockbottom, that is, our village. The elder 
girl when eighteen married a blacksmith in their 
village. The elder boy, after playing some time 
with his father in the fairs, left him and went to a 
provincial theatre, where he played minor parts. 
At the age of twenty he married an actress. This 
was three years from the time I now wish to speak 
about. 

Robinson's son's wife, about a year after she was 
married, agreed to take charge of Nellie, Robin- 
217 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

son's younger daughter, to train her for the 
stage. This was to have been particularly in 
dancing, for which Nellie's sister-in-law was cele- 
brated. By verbal agreement with the manager 
she was also to play minor parts during her 
learning. The time of the engagement was 
fixed, which extended from the time Nellie was 
fourteen until she was sixteen. After this her 
father was anxious, for family and professional 
reasons, to get her dn his own stage in the 
dramatic show. 

Mrs. Robinson, the mother, was now about 
forty-five; she was sadly afflicted with gout and 
needed care. Having become very stout, she 
found great difficulty in playing ; this she ex- 
perienced particularly in taking the part of 
Columbine in their pantomime, in which a certain 
amount of activity was demanded, even on their 
stage. 

An experiment had been made' of taking a 
young lady, who had been for a short time on 
a provincial stage, to join their company, a Miss 
Perkins, a country girl from their own neighbour- 
hood. It was found, however, that her manners 
were so excessively free, that Mrs. Robinson, who 
had a keen sense of propriety in all matters, was 
shocked at them. Robinson, I must say, to his 
dishonour and to Mrs. Robinson's disgust, did 
not appear to object to Miss Perkins' social 

2X8 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



ONWARDS 

freedom. For peace of mind he had finally to 
discharge Miss Perkins, after making many excuses 
for her, and protesting for the. necessity of a young 
lady to make his company complete. The ex- 
periment of taking a young man to play the young 
ladies' parts, which was done with myself, was not 
considered by Robinson quite satisfactory. There 
was no doubt a great difficulty of getting a modest, 
nice-looking girl of talent to perform at a show in 
a fair for very small wages. 

The one other female performer in Robinson's 
company besides his wife was the hostler's wife, 
Mrs. Rutter, who played the servant and other 
minor parts. She entirely objected to appear in 
tights, even on Mrs. Robinson's solicitation for her 
to take her own place. 

"I consider my limbs," she said, "my own private 
property. I do not consider it decent to leave 
them in view for public inspection. If Nobbie 
will buy me a proper long gown, I have no 
objection to try to take the part of Columbine in 
a proper dress, but I could not go about as Mrs. 
Robinson does." It is very curious what ideas 
some people have who have not been brought up 
in connection with the stage ! 

The whole upshot of the affair was that Nellie 

Robinson, much against her will, had to come 

home and help her parents in the show by taking 

all the younger female parts. She was duly 

219 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

advertised by Robinson as " A lady eminent on the 
London stage." This we may term a bold 
assertion ; she played once only in London, for a 
week in some minor part in a pantomime, with her 
sister-in-law. 

The matter of Robinson's daughter coming to 
the theatrical show was not at all indifiFerent to 
me, I had heard so much of her from the 
Robinsons, who were excellent friends to me. 
After she joined the company I took an interest 
at once in her, and longed to see her perform. 
For this, my only opportunity was occasionally 
when our last batch of visitors were in, just before 
closing time, and the old 'un was "going it" 
through his speech, that I could then get off in time 
to see the pantomime at Robinson's by entering 
at the back of the tent, which I had the privilege 
of doing, before the performance closed. Their 
performance generally continued later than our 
own show. 

I fell in love with Nellie when I first saw her — 
desperately in love. She told me afterwards that 
she fell in love with me at about the same time. 
We never told our love. No! we thought it 
would not do, that is, we were afraid for a long 
time. I suppose — I do not know — she was drawn 
to me by admiration of my touting to bring people 
into our show. She must have had some reasons, 
and this was my most important function. I 
220 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



ONWARDS 

know with myself that I was drawn to her by her 
brilliant performances. 

I suppose love enters every body, or perhaps we 
may say every soul, by attraction to something per- 
sonal in the dear one who captivates. With some 
men, I have heard that it is due sometimes to ad- 
miration of the bright and liquid eye ; that to others 
it is the smiling mouth or dimpled cheek ; to others 
the flowing, glossy hair ; to others, again, the lithe 
and gentle form of the body, or the full, white 
chest. To some, I have even heard, it is by the 
knowledge of the pure and virtuous life of the 
beloved one ; to some even from the clicking of a 
money bag. To me — spirit of my dear aunt ! I 
suppose I ought to be ashamed to say it, because 
it must be so strange, and it may have occurred 
all through me seeing Nellie so often in Nobbie's 
pantomime — love entered my soul from Nellie's 
legs, the form of which I thought to be simply 
lovely. It was not this only, for when she danced 
as Columbine my heart looked upwards to her 
body and face, and these were also beautiful to 
me. When I have said what I have about legs, let 
me further explain, I mean stockings, nothing 
more. Mrs. Robinson, good soul, had frilled down 
her garments much below her London, or even her 
provincial costume, that she brought with her to 
our show, or I would not have mentioned what I 
have done of my Nellie. 

221 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 



men of 




posi t ion. 


jA 


even peers 


*^ 


realm, have 


1%^ 


in love with 


% ^ 



We do not think it so very strange, William 
Smith, as you imagine. It is on record that gentle- 

high 
nay, 
of the 
fallen 
ballet 
dancers from 
their beautiful 
legs, so that your 
taste may be said 
to be more aristo- 
cratic than ple- 
beian. In the 
great battle of 
life between 
legs and brains 
the legs are 
more often 
victors. 




When 
passion 



our 
was 
known, which 
was very soon 
discoverable by 
my walking out 
with Nellie on Sundays, and being found often 
peeping through holes in the Robinsons' tent at her, 

222 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



ONWARDS 

I found the boldness to tell Mr. Robinson. He, to 
my great delight, made no serious objection. He 
had seen it, he said, and was glad his daughter had 
fixed her affections upon so respectable a man. A 
girl on the stage was exposed to many temptations 
from her near association with other players — (per- 
haps he referred to Mr. Hackworth, aged forty. It 
could not have been Roison, the drummer, nor the 
hostler's boy, who made up his company some- 
times ; they were too rough, surely ?). He said what 
pleased him in the match was that we should 
always be near him, and his daughter could 
still perform the important ladies' parts in his 
plays. I have reason to believe that this was the 
true cause of his sanction, as I have heard he often 
said to Mrs. Robinson that he supposed Nellie 
would marry and go off, and then what could they 
do for a first lady, unless they took Miss Perkins 
back, which Robinson was constantly harping 
upon, and Mrs. Robinson as constantly deciding 
that he should never do. A vexing subject, the 
discussion of which very frequently spoiled an hour 
or more of the good folks' night's rest 

The old 'un objected to my marrying, as he 
could not find space for us in the van of a night 
when travelling. This was a great truth, but as 
my mind was fixed, even if I had to leave him and 
return to the stage (?) myself, other arrangements 
had to be made ; besides which, I was twenty-four 
223 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

years of age, and for many reasons better married. 
Experience had taught him that he c6uld not now 
get on without me to leave any profit from his 
show. He knew also that my respect for him was 
so much lowered by the blow he had given 
me years ago that my aunt would be the only 
consideration that would hold me, so that he had 
to consent to our courtship. 

To return to Nellie Robinson, my thoughts never 
wandered far from her at this time ; she possessed to 
me all the human perfections with which love can 
invest his ideal. Her eyes were soft grey, shaded 
blue ; her hair was brown, with gentle, waving curls ; 
her lips bore constant smiles, which moved in 
harmo/iy with her dimpled cheeks ; her com- 
plexion was pink and white, but shaded over by 
the sunny tint that country life alone can give. 
Her form, full of maiden grace, was an ideal, my 
ideal ! 

I may say that Nellie, besides her good homely 
virtues, had a great deal of poetry in her soul. 
I expect this was imparted to her in some degree 
by the speeches she heard and said on the stage. 
Some glimpses of this, I think, may be found in 
this book, of which she wrote over the greater part 
before it came into Mr. Saunders' hands. 

I said in the early pages I saw no beauty in land- 
scape. I may now make exception and say I did just 
once, when I was in love, and will give the incident. 
224 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



ONWARDS 

Nellie and I were seated on the top rail of 
a stile just after sunset on one Sunday evening 
late in August, a short time before we were 
married. My arm was round her waist. She took 
off her bonnet and leaned her head upon my 
breast. She said, " Is it not beautiful ? " 

1 squeezed her to me and said, " Yes." 

She replied, " Not our love only, but the scene 
around us ? " 

'* I have scarcely noticed it," I said. 

** Do so now," she replied. " You see these 
gold-like clouds suspended in a lovely sky that 
shades from intense blue above, through tints of 
dusky green, to fiery red below. Are they not 
beautiful?" 

Squeezing her to me I said, " Go on." 

" Now look nearer ; see this pale yellow barley 
field that the sunset tints turn into a lake of gold. 
Hear the skylark throbbing out his sweet notes 
above it. Look at the waves the light wind ripples 
over the tender barley ears, which seem to flow 
and move to the throb of the skylark's notes. 
Then look at the village far beyond, backed by 
the distant hills, which stand out boldly in dull 
grey shadowy tones. See the white threads of 
rising smoke come from the cottages upwards, 
till they reach above the hills and melt into the 
golden tints of the air above. These cottages 
tell me of our future home, which I hope may 
P 22^:. 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

be, "as they appear to us — peaceful and 
beautiful ! " 

I said, " It is wonderful to me how you see these 
things. I can feel them now as I never felt them 
before." I may say I have never seen them in the 
same light since. Was it love ? I think it was ! 

We went home fondly together to our tents. 
I felt much more intensely in love than before. 
I could not even peep through the holes in the 
canvas into her tent to look at her that night. I was 
exalted by the holy fire of love, but how I felt I 
cannot tell ! 




226 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 




CHAPTER XV 

HOME 

'ITER the fair-season, mentioned 
in the last chapter, arrange- 
ments were made for our 
marriage, which was to take 
place from the Robinson's cot- 
tage at Shadbrook, nine miles 
from our village. My aunt and 
the old 'un were invited. We all started together 
in a light cart that I borrowed, which, by placing a 
board at the back to form a seat, made it hold four. 
I was then working for the old 'un, upon the last 
cottage he ever built, at fourteen shillings a week 
and had s^ved a little money (I had a pound a 
week at fair-times). 

I was able, by losing a day's work, to be married 
upon the first Saturday in November. It was 
customary in our villages for our class of people 
to be married on a Sunday, as no day need then 
be lost from work. When a young man came from 
227 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

a distance to take his bride, and was therefore un- 
known to the villagers, he was very liable to suffer 
from the local horse-play of his class when the lads 
were idle. If it ended in chaff, by the kind in- 
structions of the young fellows telling him how he 
should manage his wife, with all kinds of proffered 
help, if he should require it, it would have been 
very well ; but in such cases he was also liable to 
be pelted, possibly for good luck? with other 
missiles than the modern conventional rice, of 
which a certain number of addled eggs formed 
one element. It is evident that these eggs might 
injure the bran-new clothing that the bridegroom 
had bought for this great event of his life. There- 
fore, although I came from a distant village, our 
wedding being on a Saturday, when the labourers 
were all at work, it was permitted to go off without 
much public notice. 

As to the internal arrangement of our marriage 
festival this was in no way private and quiet. 
Indeed, Mr. Robinson was in all ways too ostenta- 
tious a man to let such a ceremony go off without 
due acknowledgment of its importance. He was 
naturally most liberal, both in profession and in his 
private life, so much so, that it kept him always 
poor or even slightly in debt. We may say of him, 
" that his Wias too great a soul to save." I mean, 
df course, to save money. 

For the important occasion of our marriage he 
228 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



HOME 

hired the club-room of the White Hart, paying 
thirty shillings for this hire, to include cooking our 
dinner and attendance. The dinner he provided 
himself, which was arranged with the landlord to 
be ready at one o'clock after our wedding. It was 
a dinner! a sight to gladden the heart! There 
was a large round of beef, a leg of mutton, and 
two roasted sucking-pigs, with nice crackling 
crisp and brown, with plenty of sage and oniort 
sauce and lots of vegetables. Then there were 
apple-pies and two large harvest plUEti-puddtngs. 
Besides all these, there was plenty of beer and 
a pipe of 'bacca to follow directly after the 
dinner. 

As to our company, Robinson, in the full 
benevolence of his heart, had asked some of the 
local landed gentry and the clergy to his feast. 
No doubt, feeling overpowered by his kindness, 
some had replied by apology ; others had not 
passed this compliment by replying, but possibly 
they felt the more ? The invitation to the clergy 
was responded to by the Reverend Porchester, our 
good curate, who really, when he came, appeared to 
enjoy the good dinner provided for us, as well as 
the rest of us. Indeed, he looked as though he had 
not had many good dinners lately. Then there 
were all the Robinson family, his dramatic company, 
and ourselves. Mr. Robinson pressed for the invi- 
tation of Miss Perkins, but Mrs. Robinson objected. 
229 



. Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

The proprietor of the White Hart was also asked 
•to join the company, and accepted. 

The Rev. Porchester and Mr. Hackworth (in the 
dress of the unfortunate traveller in his tragedy), 
appeared in black. I dropped my smock-frock 
and bought a new coat of dark green corduroy 
and a waistcoat of bright colours for the occasion. 
The old 'un also came out strong. Mr. Robinson 
wore the most genteel of his theatrical properties. 
Altogether, we appeared as stylish a company, for 
the Country, as -you can well imagine, of twenty-four 
persons. The bride's dress was a serviceable dark 
red French merino, for which I subscribed half the 
price, and my aunt made it. It was trimmed with 
Scarlet satin ribbon, and was altogether very 
pretty. My wife said afterwards it would do for 
her to perform the lady's part in any piece at her 
father's show. Mr. Hackworth said it was a dress 
that he could write up to. 

Dinner being over, it was pre-arranged that some 
of us should make speeches. As regards the old 
'un and myself, we trembled at this and would 
much rather have been let off, but Mr! Robinson, 
whose eloquence I have before discussed, would 
have been much distressed to lose so important an 
occasion for display before his friends, of his very 
superior talent in this direction. Besides which, 
he gave the dinner, therefore he had the right to 
rule the matter of speeches. He got up as soon ais 
230 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



HOME 

the table was cleared of the principal dishes and 
commenced. 

" Dear friends ahd countrymen " (style of Mark 
Antony s speech. If he had gone to bury Caesar, 
perhaps some of us present would not have re- 
gretted it), *' we meet to-day on a most auspicious 




occasion to commemorate the perfect unity of two 
devoted souls." (The ladies commenced to pull 
out their pocket-handkerchiefs, more, I think, from 
the solemn tone of Robinson's voice, than from the 
heretofore touching words.) " My beloved wife 
and myself feel deeply that we are about to lose 
our very dear daughter, whose qualities I cannot 
231 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

too greatly extol. I am sure you will join with us 
in feeling that she is not a creature, of ordinary 
mould. We must remembei* that we have in her, 
not only a good daughter, but a perfect lady, a 
grand tragedian, a glorious comedian, and a fine 
pantomime artist. She has been the delight of the 
London stage." (Reference to her week's perform- 
ance.) "She has performed with great applause, 
both in the provinces and upon our own stage. 
We know she comes of a stock where genius pre- 
dominates ; that in following the footsteps of her 
talented mother, she has obtained the great power 
she possesses." (Mrs. R. pulls his coat, and says 
in stage whisper, " Don't be silly." Mr. R. replies, 
also in stage whisper, "My love, I mean it") 
"Further, I may say with perfect modesty of my- 
self, that is, if I may judge by the applause that 
has greeted me on many occasions, and some 
observations of the lofcal press, that I take the 
position of an eminent actor, and feel proud of 
being her father. In some respects I could have 
devoutly wished that she had made a choice of her 
future partner in our own village, from the dear 
friends of those I see around me, that she might 
have dwelt near her affectionate father and mother ; 
but, on the other hand, we have in William Smith ^' 
(A voice, "we call him Bill.")— " well, Bill Smith 
is the same thing, but not so poetic and suitable 
for this occasion. I say then, in my new son-in- 
232 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



HOME 

law, we have a powerful, healthy, manly, steady, 
highly-talented fellow, who would even be an 
ornament to the stage himself if he pleased at any 
time to follow the profession. This, his perform- 
ance on my own stage of the countryman in 
"The Londoner Defeated," a noble work by our 
great tragic author, Mr. Hackworth, has plainly 
shown." 

We omit here the allusion to Mr. Robinson's 
private affairs i and his account of the dearly- 
departed ohes^ as being too cutting to record upon 
^our wedding-day, and give the pleasant ending of 
his fine speech only. 

" My beloved wife and I feel that in my highly- 
talented daughter ahd my son-in-law we hope to 
Jive again; that when my beloved wife is placed 
in her shroud, and I have crumbled to the common 
dust, as the rest of us. must do, the genius of the 
Robinsons may yet live in the offspring of these 
young people, who may perhaps come imd weep 
over our graves.". (The ladies again shed tears.) 
" Do not sorrow, my friends ; I will say no more, 
except in mirth. We will now drink the healths of 
my beloved daughter and son-in-law in a flowing 
bumper." 

General applause. 

During this eloquent speech it appeared that, as 
the sentient liquid flowed from the eyes of the very 
receptive ladies present, that as regards another 
233 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

liquid, namely, beer, the gentlemen at the same 
time were affected with a constant inward thirst, 
with* the result that, when this eloquent speech 
was ended, one of the guests was heard t6 
say — 

*' The beer's off, gov'ner. We can't drink a 'ealth 
out of hempty pots." 

The proprietor of the inn looked towards Robins- 
son, who winked and said in a stage whisper, " Two 
gallons more." This appeared to be highly satis- 
factory to the guests, who then rattled the:knives 
and forks on their plates, and got i|p a general cry 
for Joe Smith to speak before the beer came in, 
which he did. 

"I larnt a speech for this here meeting. I 
suppose it is the beef and beer and a iittle bit of 
sucking-pig that has danged it all out of my head. 
All I 'ave got to say now that I can think of 
is, I don't like Nobbie to say that he would 
rather his gal had married someone out of this 
here village than my Bill." (Voice, " No ! no ! ") 
" Now, I says, if Nobbie likes to ask over a dozen 
or so of our fellows, we 'ill show them that Stock- 
ingbottom is as good as Shadbrook." (Mrs. Joe 
Smith pulls his coat.) " I can't sit down and hear 
such stuff as that." (Pulls again, and whispers.) 
" Yes, I wish the new-married pair may get a 
'appy life." (Another pull. He sits down and 
has a grumble.) 

234 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



HOME 

This was fortunate for the respectability of the 
festival, for there were all the elements preisentof a 
fight, hanging about among the company, which 
my aunt saw. 

The beer was now brought in, and Mr. Robinson 
said, " We will now drink the health of the happy 
bride and. bridegroom, with musical honours, if you 
please, gentlemen and ladies." They all stood up 
and sang, " For he is a jolly good fellow, and so say 
all of us," and gave three cheers for Mr. and Mrs. 
Bill Smith, with a loud rattle of knives and forks 
on the plates for Bill Smith to rise, to which I 
replied, " I and my new wife thank our father 
for giving us such a fine dinner. As we love each 
other now, we expect we may be as happy as other 
people in married life generally are. I hope you 
will take no offence at what uncle has said, for 
really he is a much better man than you may think 
him, and my aunt is a very kind, good woman. 
I have only got to say I thank you for your kind 
wishes." 

The Rev. Porchester, our good curate, rose. 
He said, " I think it a duty we owe to our kind 
host, who has provided us the magnificent banquet 
we have just enjoyed, to return him our thanks. 
I "have great sympathy with the work of Mr. 
Robinson, for both he and myself are actors on the 
stage of life, trying to instil moral principles; 
that although I work from the divine Book, and 
235 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

Mr. Robinson from the drama, I hope we have one 
end in view, which is to show the path of righteous- 
ness. When a gentleman acts as Mr. Robinson 
has done to-day, he must claim the honour of all 
his friends," (General applause.) "We will now 
drink his health." 

Three voices exclaim at once, "The beer's off; 
we can't." - 

Another wink at the proprietor produces another 
can of beer, and Mr. Robinson's health is duly 
drunk. It is duly acknowledged in Mn R's. best 
style of eloquence. 

Mr. Hackworth then rises to drink the health of 
the visitors. 

My wife and I had understood from Mr. Robin- 
son the preparation of Mr. Hackworth's speech 
" had consumed the midnight oil." Mrs. Robinson, 
of less poetic temperament, said, "Don't take any 
notice of him ; that is the silly way he talks. It 
really took three nights' work with a penny candle." 
I must say that when we heard it it appeared to us 
too profound, too theatrical and too. classical for 
us to retain it, or, I regret to say, even to under- 
stand it I am also assured it went far beyond 
the literary character of this work. For all 
this, I am also assured that it was a disappoint- 
ment to Mr. Hackworth. He had been in- 
formed by Mr. Robinson that the gentry and 
clergy ' of the district had been invited. The 
236 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



HOME 

invitations in his mind ran to the conclusion of 
acceptances by the parties asked, and the speech 
was written for the reception of the learned, 
whereas the only learned man present was 
the Rev. Porchester, to whom, therefore, in a 
certain sense, we ma)r consider this speech was 
addressed. 

We feel, of course, the responsibility of losing 
the record of such a fine piece of eloquence as 
Mr. Hackworth's speech. We have, therefore, 
applied to the Rev. Porchester, whom we thought 
perhaps understood it, to supply us with as 
copious notes as he was able. His memory 
would not, however, carry him further than 
some idea of the opening and closing words, 
which we are pleased to record from his descrip- 
tion. 

" Redeunt Saturnia regna." Mr. Hackworth 
was immediately politely requested, "to try to 
speak English." He, therefore, smiling graciously, 
recommenced. " The golden age returns ! In this 
our social gathering, to celebrate the most festive 
of all human ceremonies, I may ask you to con- 
sider how deeply rooted the ulterior processes of 
marriage are in human nature. In the earliest 
recorded history marriage consisted of a simple 
natural process with our ancestors, but we must 
remember that in these times of primitive human 
existence life was primitive and simple also. In 
237 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

Roman times we witness the gorgeous festive pro- 
ceedings of- the sumptuous banquet, and the same 
festivals are continued in style and manner far 
away through the Middle Ages until the present 
time." . Of all thqse epochs Mr. Hackworth gave 
full historical details, naming certain celebrated 
festivals, describing the manner in which they 
occurred, the particulars of which our friend, the 
Rev. Porchester, had forgotten. Therefore, he 
gould only quote the termination of this grand 
speech. 

" Now we come to our present marriage festival, 
^yhich, I may say, equals any of which we have 
historical record, if not in magnificence at least in 
gordiality. This sumptuous banquet so graciously 
provided for us by our highly-honoured personal 
friend, Mr. Horatio Robinson, could never have 
passed off with the present eclat that it has done 
withput the presence of our highly-esteemed 
visitors " (a nod to me showed that the bridegroom 
was one necessary factor), " whose health we now 
drink, coupling with it the name of Mr. Josiah 
Smith." 

This was followed by a slight murmur, as the 
beer was nearly off again. 

Mr. Josiah Smith should certainly have replied 

to Mr. Hackworth's grand speech. He had had 

the reply written out for him by Mr. Hackworth, 

and my aunt had tried to teach it to him by 

238 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



HOME 

repeatedly reading it over, but Joe Smith having 
been called upon earlier in the ceremony than it 
was intended, through waiting for a supply of beer, 
it naturally threw things out a bit. The reply 
should have commenced, " In reply to our dear 
friend,. Mr. Hackworth." 

As the matter now stood, Josiah Smith had 
fallen fast asleep in his chair, and it was found to 
be very difficult to rouse him. He had forgotten 
his speech, and his utterances generally were some- 
what incoherent. 

Under the conditions present, a song was 
proposed as the best way of shunting the diffi- 
culty. This was proposed to be sung with a 
chorus in which all the company might join. 
There was no doubt a sentimental song was 
most appropriate under the circumstances, for 
the occasion, and, as the highest sentiments of 
this period were just commencing to \>e acknow- 
ledged to reside particularly in niggers, a nigger 
song was demanded of a young man present, 
who possessed the desirable musical talent for 
its performance. The song selected by the young 
man was very suitable for the occasion. I need 
only repeat the chorus, which was sung by all 
assembled, who felt they were sober enough to 
stand up :^— 

" We may make sure when an old nigger's gone 
We can take care that a new nigger come." 

239 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

After the song, possibly through the very demon- 
strative applause, the old 'un fairly awoke. My 
aunt said, " We must now get off, as it will be very 
dark to find our way home." My wife Nellie and I 
consented to this, and the cart was ordered up 
at once. At this time also the Rev. Mr. Por- 
chester left. 

More beer was demanded by the visitors. The 
proprietor announced that, according to his instruc- 
tions, further supplies of this beverage would be at 
the individual expense of the visitors, as the feast 
was now declared to be at an end. To this he 
received the reply of — 

" That be blowed ! " The proprietor, however, 
took particular care that the twopences were duly 
paid for the pints afterwards. 

When we left the room it was a scene of mirth 
and song, and of love and affection. Every lady 
appeared to be embraced by the arms of one or 
two gentlemen round her shoulders or waist I 
heard the room was afterwards cleared, and a 
fiddler called in for a dance, which lasted till 
midnight and ended, I am sorry to say, with a 
fight between two young men for the right of 
seeing a pretty girl home. The stronger man 
prevailed, quite to the satisfaction of the sensible 
pretty girl, who said, " I can't a-bear a sickly 
man spooning about me." 

The old 'un had certainly taken too much 
240 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



HOME 

beef and sucking-pig and beer. He was still 
very sleepy. My aunt said to me,. "You h^d 
better drive, and take your wife: by your 
side." ^ . ; 

The small box which contained my wife's trous- 
seau was not heavy. It was put in the back of the 
cart. My aunt said if she and Joe sat on it, and 
she tied her shawl round his waist (that is, his 
middle part ; he had no waist), if he fell asleep he 
could not fall over, as she could hold on by the 
rail on her side of the cart. It soon became neces- 
sary for her to use all her vigilance, for sleep soon 
took possession of the old 'un. 

It turned out a nasty wet night, and when we 
got to our village we were nearly wet through. 
We got the old 'un out of the cart, with a little 
help, and set him down at his home. 

My wife and I went to our cottage, where I 
had arranged with a neighbour to light a fire 
for us by the time we returned, if it should be 
wet This neighbour also minded my aunt's 
last baby, now a year old, who was duly returned 
to her. 

I took the cart home and put up the horse. I 
then walked back home. I had half a gallon of 
beer in the house, so we had some bread and cheese 
and beer, in which the neighbour joined us at 
supper. This did not take long, as my wife and I 
were not hungry nor thirsty then. The neighbour 
Q 241 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

left immediately after this, and we were left by our- 
selves, before eight o'clock, which I think was much 
nicer than roystering about with a half-drunken lot 
till midnight, as was common with newly-married 
folk at our country weddings. 




242 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CHAPTER XVI 



CISSIE 



I SING at seven o'clock 
the first morning of 
our wedded life, we 
both felt desperately 
hungry. I had ar- 
ranged beer to drink 
for breakfast, be- 
cause I was used to 
it. Nellie (my new 
wife) did not like 
beer. We agreed to 
have bread and milk, and I went out to Mason's 
farm, just by, and got a quart of milk and half a 
score of eggs, while Nellie lighted the fire to boil 
the milk. I found I liked bread and milk better now 
than I ever liked it before. I had also two eggs. 
Nellie would have none. On Saturday, before we 
left our village, I got in half of a splendid pig's 
head and some split-peas, for peas-pudding for our 
243 




Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

Sunday dinner. This Nellie cooked, and we did 
justice to it at dinner-time, I can tell you. 

After breakfast I felt troubled about aunt, who 
was always poorly now, for I felt sure she had got 
wet through last night by using her shawl to tie 
the old 'un into the cart. I was quite right about 
this ; she was ill in bed, and could not move. The 
old 'un said she would come round all right if she 
kept warm in bed. Indeed, I am quite sure that, 
as he had now worn my aunt out he did not care 
much about her, I soon put on the screw. I said 
I should fetch the doctor. He said he thought we 
should get on all right if Cissie, who was left with 
her aunt, came home at once to nurse her mother ; 
that the doctor had imposed upon him since he 
built his cottages. He charged him two shillings 
for a visit, with medicine, whereas he only charged 
one shilling before, which was not fair. At any- 
rate, I said, as there was only one doctor, we 
must have him, I told him further, that if any- 
thing happened, to my aunt, I would leave him at 
once, and go on the stage with my wife, a thought 
that really entered my mind. Remembering his 
experience of the show without my help, he said, 
" Well, fetch the doctor if you like." 

The doctor, when he arrived, said it was a severe 

cold, but very necessary to be attended to in my 

aunt's general bad state of health. He gave some 

embrocation to rub on her throat, a mustard plaster 

244 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CISSIE 

for her chest, and some medicine to take. The 
old 'un asked him what he was going to charge. 
The doctor felt annoyed at this. He replied, " I 
will charge you before the magistrate if anything 
happens to your wife from neglect." In fact, like 
everyone else, he was very fond of my aunt, and 
disliked the old 'un. 

Nellie went in to mind my aunt during the day, 
and took care of the child. 

Cissie was to have returned home from her 
aunt's on the Sunday evening, but as her mother 
was so ill I thought it better to fetch her at once. 
When I got to her aunt's cottages, I found Cissie 
at home. She was evidently in a bad temper, of 
which I soon found out that I was the cause. She 
had not been invited to my wedding, which she 
thought was a great slight. 

"You and your wife, I suppose, will be thought to 
be everything,, and me, Joe Smith's own daughter, 
nothing at all." 

I explained to her that the cart we went to the 
wedding in would only hold four; that I should 
have liked to have taken her, as I hired the cart 
myself, if there had been room. She replied, " A 
great strong fellow like you might have walked 
back ; it is only nine miles." 

Her aunt came into the room afterwards. She 
told me she was sorry to say that Cissie had been 
very troublesome to her, and that I was to tell her 
245 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

father she could not take her another summer 
season ; that her uncle also could not put up 
with her. She was now sixteen, and they could 
not get her in of an evening. She would go about 
with rough fellows, whose company they did not 
approve, and they did not think her safe. 

Cissie replied, " I don't care. I suppose someone 
else will take care of me." 

She had been apprenticed to dressmaking to the 
same Miss Togelly as my aunt was. Her uncle 
(great-uncle) had paid for this, as previously for 
my aunt. I thought how different the mother and 
daughter were. 

I was altogether sadly disappointed with Cissie, 
the Cissie I had loved so much in my childhood. 
She was very offended at what her aunt had told 
me. She said — 

" I do hot know whether I will go home with 
you. I would rather walk by myself. I hate you! " 

" Well," I replied, " you must come now to your 
sick mother. You need not walk with me ; I will 
go on." I started off at once. 

There was a large bundle of her clothes, which 
had been got ready for her return, to be carried 
home, and she reflected upon the weight. She 
called me back when I had proceeded a short 
distance, to ask me if I would help her with the 
bundle. She said she did not want me to talk to 
her. This was very unlike her mother, who was 
246 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CISSIE 

always so talkative. It suited me very well, as I 
felt so thoroughly disgusted with her. 

I took up the bundle and went on in front. 
When I came to the first stile I rested. A man 
finds a big bundle, although its weight may not be 
great, a very awkward thing to carry. From some 
reason a woman does not seem nearly so awkward 
with it As I was resting Cissie came up to me. 
She appeared more gracious. I thought I could 
see a trace of her usual smile on her face. 

" Thank you for carrying my bundle so far," she 
said ; " I think I ought to take a pull at it now." 

" No, thanks ; I will stick to it a bit." 

She now walked by my side. I said, " Why is 
it you hate me, Cissie ? " 

" I do not hate you so much now you are married 
as I felt I did just before." 

"Why is that?" 

" I am a big girl now," she said. " I did not 
know you were engaged, and I made up my mind 
that you would want to fondle me about just as 
you used to do when we were children together. 
1 should not have liked it now, as I think there is 
nothing so hateful as to see relations spooning 
together. I am pleased you are married, be- 
cause I now see no fear of this. But I thought, 
at least, you would have asked me to your 
wedding, so I do not see any reason for not hating 
you still." 

247 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

" I am sorry/' I replied ; " but I had to drive 
your father home, whose state after a feast would 
be uncertain, and, further, the Robinsons had not 
invited you." 

" Very well," she said, " we will drop it, now that 
you have explained." 

I told her I had no idea of spooning with her under 
any conditions, as I had the same feeling on the sub- 
ject as she had, and would not do it on principle. 

We may say here that Bill Smith was right. 
The practical sin of consanguinity, which tends to 
degenerate our race, is not a vice of the lower 
classes, who demonstrate a natural repulsion to 
union among what we term legally marriageable 
relatives. 

Cissie nursed her mother, but she was not gentle 
with her. She hated her baby brother. She would 
still go out of an evening in company with rough 
fellows. Her father told her she must keep in. 
She quite defied him. He bought a cane, deter- 
mined to thrash her. Her mother begged her off^ 
and hid the cane. My wife attended to my aunt 
in her gentle way, and she became much attached 
to her. Indeed, they were great friends ever after- 
vvards. My aunt partially recovered her health, 
but this, from surrounding circumstances, was 
generally broken down. The doctor told the old 
'un she ought to be left at home the following 
248 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CISSIE 

summer to recover her strength. My uncle said it 
was impossible. My aunt said — 

" I think I can get on pretty well as yet" 

On the Monday following our wedding an attack 
was made upon me by Duck, who thought he ought 
to have been present. 

" I took your part," he said, " with the old 'un, 
when you wanted it, but when there is a good 
feed on you forget me." 

I explained that I did not know there was to be 
a good feed on, and that Nobbie only asked my 
aunt and the old 'un. I gave him half a crown to 
drink at my expense, which seemed to satisfy him. 

" You ought to have had the marriage at home," 
he said, " where you was respected, and not at such 
a cussed place as Shadbrook. I shall give it to 
Nobbie next season. He often asks me to do a 
bit of. work for him, and then forgets me when a 
good thing is on. . He is just like old Stock, who 
borrowed half a crown of me for drink, and then 
said he could not remember anythink he did when 
he was drunk. He said I must have made a mis- 
take. He thought it was he who lent me half a 
crown. I never got it back." 
f I must say I have some doubt about the par- 
ticulars of Mr, Stock and the half crown, and also 
some idea that if Duck did Robinson a favour, he 
made a draw of money for it. I only draw this 
conclusion from his general character. 
249 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

Duck was employed about our cottages, as well 
as myself, in the winter time. He used to draw 
timber home, which he could saw well enough for 
us, dig post holes, and attend to the garden, for 
which he had good labourers' hire of twelve shillings 
a week. He had also work of his own in the even- 
ings. Being musical, he had learnt to scrape a few 
popular tunes on an old fiddle. By this accom- 
plishment he got evenings at Christmas dances, or 
went round the public taps of an evening, where 
he picked up a good amount in pence for his per- 
formances. He lived at all times up to his means, 
and, being single, treated ladies liberally for the 
reciprocal kindnesses that he received from them. 

The winter was passed in repairing of the cot- 
tages and making fences. We had done much 
of the work upon the cottages badly, often being 
hurried for time, to get off for the fair-season. This 
work had to be done over again. I was sublimely 
happy in my home. My aunt made very warm 
clothing for herself out of patchwork from the pieces 
of silk she bought cheap. She also joined my wife, 
and instructed her in making underclothing, an 
item that had been much neglected in her trousseau 
at the time she became my wife. The Robinson 
ostentation did not extend to things out of sight. 

At this time a letter came from Bob Smith, from 
Bendigo in Australia, where he had now moved. 
It appears that since he had been out there he had 
250 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CISSIE 

fully asserted his manly character. He writes to 
his " dear father and mother " — 

" You will be pleased to know I am not going to 
knock under anybody out here. I have had a fight 
with two Englishmen, an Irishman, and a Scotch- 
man, and given them all a good thrashing, so that 
they will have to keep shy of me now. I send you 
a paper, which shows up my last fight. I have got 
the name of Bully Smith, and I rather like it, 
although I make the chaps call me Bob, or I give 
them a oner. The worst of fighting is, that it 
knocks you up a bit, so I am very short of money. 
If you can send me a ten-pound note I shall be 
very glad. I remain your very affectionate son, 
Bob.'' 

Joe Smith did not like to part with his money, 
but he was very proud of his boy's pluck, so he 
sent him five pounds, Bob's letters home always 
demanded money, but the old 'un used his judg- 
ment as to the amount to send. Otherwise, they 
gave the old 'un a fund of talk (that is, for him) at 
fair-times, as he was never tired of talking of Bob's 
pluck, which he compared to his own when a young 
man. We added a prize-fighter to our show from 
the influence of these letters. I conclude from 
Bob's letters that he took strongly after his father. 
This was further confirmed by a photograph he had 
sent home (although a bad one), in which there was 
evidently a strong resemblance between them. 
251 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

My aunt sent the reply letter, enclosing a five 
pound note, in which she said : — 

"Your father is very proud of you, I like to 
hear that you are brave, but I must advise you 
that I think it would be better for you now to 
become as peaceable as possible. Injured persons 
sometimes take revenge if opportunity serves. I 
should like to hear that you have given up fighting, 
and are sticking to work to save money. I hope I 
may see you well and happy some day. At present 
I do not feel very well nor strong. . Your father, 
Cissie, and baby are very well. We all send our love." 

After a number of objections had been over- 
come, my aunt persuaded her own aunt to take 
Cissie again for the season. She expected, as 
Cissie grew older, she would have more sense. 
Her father would allow four shillings a week for 
her keep, instead of three as before. The old 'un 
would have taken her the round of the fairs, to 
help my aunt, and take care of the baby. This 
Cissie would have liked, only that her mother said 
it might be her ruin, as she had not strength to 
look after her. Her own aunt said, although she 
took her, she would not be responsible for her, as 
she was so wilful. 

When we started on our first fair-season after 

my marriage, my aunt had still a bad cough. The 

old 'un was very unkind to her ; scolded her about 

Cissie being left at home at a great expense. He 

252 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CISSIE 

did not notice the baby, as he had done the other 
children before. This troubled my aunt v^ry much. 
I tried to make up for it by paying every possible 
attention to her. She found a great comfort in my 
Nellie, who was always ready to help her, so far 
as she had time. She also minded the baby very 
often. Upon the whole, I think my aunt, although 
she was very ill, may not have been less happy 
this season than when she was almost entirely 
under the old 'un's influence. 

Nellie continued on her father's stage. She slept 
with me in the tent of a night in fair-times. When 
we were travelling she went with the Robinsons 
in their van, as she had done when we were single. 
The old 'un now took very little of the night walk- 
ing by the horses on the roads. This work wa^ 
now divided between Duck and myself. We 
alternately slept in the cart for part of the way, 
when we were tired, in a nest which we always 
made in the. canvas, for a sleeping-place, when we 
were packing it. The season was fairly fine and 
prosperous, without events worthy of record. 

The following winter my wife had a baby. She 
was nursed in her confinement by my aunt,, and 
did very well. Being very strong, my Nellie was up 
during the following week, and working in the house 
after a fortnight. Our first was a boy, and, although 
I say it, I think the finest boy I have ever seen. 

When we were again just settled back in winter 
253 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

quarters — the Sunday following, Cissie came back 
home. She brought a young man with her. 
They carried her bundle together. He appeared a 
bit sheepish at the door, but she told him to come 
in. The old 'un looked surprised at seeing a young 
man, of whom he had heard nothing before, and 
asked at once what he wanted. Cissie said it was 
her sweetheart, she brought him on so that he 
might come and see her at home now. The old 
'un said he did not know about that ; she was too 
young, and he did not know about the young man's 
character or who he was. She said he was an ap- 
prentice to Cowell the batcher. He told her it was 
no use her taking to apprentices, she must court a 
man who could keep her when she was old enough to 
marry. She said he would be out of his time next 
month and would then be earning wages regularly. 
The old 'un did not ask him to have anything, but 
told him he might go, as he should have to talk to 
Cissie. 

My aunt looked on at first and said nothing, but 
when the young man was gone she asked Cissie 
about him. She found he lived in the house with 
the butcher's family ; that at present he did not 
possess a penny or any home ; that his father was 
living, an indoor pauper at the workhouse, where 
his son had been brought up ; that he had been 
apprenticed by the parish to Cowell, who supplied 
meat to the Union. 

254 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CISSIE 

My aunt said she thought she had better make 
inquiries for her as to his character, and that if this 
was satisfactory, they had better continue the court- 
ship for a year or more, till she was nearly eighteen, 
to see how he got on, as she was too young to think 
of marriage. 

Cissie replied that she had promised him that 
she would marry him as soon as he was out of his 
time. Her mother showed her that she could not 
marry him until he got a home and could keep her. 
She said she thought dad would give her a cottage. 
To this dad replied he would do nothing of the 
kind, and that she must break it off, at least for 
the present. She said it was all very well for him 
to say so ; she could not give him up, nor do much 
more courting. A general quarrel ensued, in which 
the old 'un grew very severe. 

My aunt had not taken to the first appearance 
of Ned Barker, that is Cissie's 
young man, for reasons she 
could not explain. He was of 
middle height, a rather stout 
fellow with a red face, and 
rather full jaws, small nose, 
small eyes, black hair, and no 
whiskers. But what my aunt 
disliked about him most was, 
that when he left the house she saw that he had 
a shuffling walk, and seemed to drag his feet as if 
255 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 




JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

they were too heavy for him to carry. In her 
good heart she. thought she would try to make 
the best of it. If he was much respected by his 
master, and he would give him constant . employ- 
ment, it might be all right. This, she thought, she 
would ascertain, and by its means, if she found things 
satisfactory, try to bring her father over. 

She went straight off to Cowell the next morning 
to make inquiries, and told him all about the matter 
of Ned and her daughter. 

. Cowell said Barker was the laziest fellow he had 
ever seen ; that he was troublesome in every pos- 
sible way ; that he had forbidden his daughters, to 
whom Barker had been very rude, ever to speak to 
him, which they had not now done for thi^ee years ; 
that he never now let him dine at his table, but 
sent his dinner to him in the stable ; that even 
his maidservant would not associate with him ; he 
should be glad when his time was up to get! rid of 
him. This was a sad blow to my aunt, as she knew 
Cissie's determined temper when she had made up 
her mind on any subject For her good she told 
her father all. 

When Cissie was told of the matter she said it 
was all lies ; that Ned had told her what a spiteful 
fellow Cowell was, and that he would take anyone's 
life away if he could. Cissie was kept at home 
after dusk, which she did not appear to mind. now. 
She saw Ned on Sunday afternoon only, but never 
256. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CISSIE 

at her home, as the old 'un and my aunt would not 
give him the slightest encouragement The first 
Sunday after Ned was out of his time she did not 
return home till past nine o'clock, and her mother 
was very much troubled at this. They kept her in 
the week following, to see how things might turn 
out. 

Ned Barker was not given a single day's employ- 
ment at Cowell's after he was out of his time, and 
as he had no home nor money he had to return to 
the workhouse. I think at this time he would 
really have worked for a month or so, just to bring 
the old folks over, but his character for idleness 
was so bad and so well known that he could not 
get employment. This was put to Cissie and really 
appeared to cool her ardour down a little, although 
she remained very sullen. Her father made her 
help in the house work and do needlework, and 
would not give her a penny for dress. 

The lovers were necessarily parted, as butcher's 
work was impossible when he had quarrelled with 
his master, the only butcher near, and he had no 
reference for character. The parish got him a 
labourer's place in the tan yard, where he was 
known, and here he really tried to work for a time ; 
but this fell off in a week or two and he was turned 
away after the first month. There appeared to be 
no hope of employment for him excepting on road 
work, breaking stones, where he had a given task 
R 257 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

to do before he could return' to the Union for supper, 
or he had short supper. The old 'un heard this artd 
took good care that Cissie should see him at his 
work, which was known to her to be the lowest 
Ned had become very pale from having so much 
less meat food than he was used to, and Cissie 
burst into tears. 

The old 'un had decided to take Cissie with them 
to the fairs in the approaching summer and make 
her work, which he argued might bring her to her 
senses. When she saw other young men she might 
give Ned up for a better man, whom they would 
strive to find for her. 

As soon as Cissie heard of this arrangement she 
told her mother a secret, the effect of which might 
have ruined her happiness for life. After some 
quarrelling both parents consented to hermarriage, 
which they thought under the circumstances should 
take place as early as possible. The old *un tried 
to find Ned Barker better employment, but without 
success, as everybody in the district* kn^w his 
character. He said after they were married if he 
would not work they might both starve. 

The wedding took place just before the time we 
were leaving for the fairs, withoi^t anyone except 
ourselves being present or any difference being 
mad^ in the housekeeping arrangements, not 
even a better dinner than usual, on the wedding- 
day. 

258 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



CISSIE 

My aunt persuaded the old 'un to let them live 
in our cottage, while we were away at the fairs, to 
try them.. Ned agreed to get work to keep house, 
and they were to receive some of his rents until 
he got it Aunt said they could look after the 
property, and she hoped things might turn out 
better than they had expected. This was very kind 
of her, but really, so far as I have heard, Ned never 
did work of any kind after they were married. 

When I returned from the fair-season after many 
other events, some of which I will mention presently, 
the only earnings, that I could hear of coming into 
the family, were a few days a week that Cissie had 
worked for Miss Togelly and the wheat and barley 
she had stored by gleaning in the corn fields by 
herself. 

Of course it is an ill wind that blows no one 
any good. Cissie's marriage with Ned, I have no 
doubt, relieved our parish, much burdened by poor 
rates, of a constant encumbrance of a man who 
would have cost during his life a hundred pounds 
or more. 

I fancy our parish might have made a boast 
of healthy paupers. We had a fine set of men 
too lazy to work, who came back and back to 
the House. We had a fine race of youngish 
females, who were happy enough in the work- 
house, as they had been brought up in it, but 
who liked to take places for a change for a few 
259 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

months in summer time, and return with a 
baby in expectancy. This helped to keep our in- 
teresting baby farm and schools going.. Besides 
this we had a noble lot of ancient paupers, who 
had sotted away all their money and means in 
manhood, who came to us to enjoy the quiet 
peace of old age. These persons were far better 
off and happier than the provident poor, who 
had stinted themselves all their lives for inde- 
pendence. Our authorities hold no sympathy 
whatever with provident people. I can tell you 
in perfect truth of an honest working man still 
living, who had five children alive at one time, two 
of whom were, unfortunately for him, born idiots. 
The parish took special care of his two idiot 
girls and brought them up. This poor man fell 
out of work in a hard frozen winter, the author- 
ities would not help hini, and his three sensible 
children died of want. Ten years afterwards, 
when the useless idiots had grown up, as they 
were harmless, the parish returned them to the 
father to keep, who was at the time trying to 
save a little for his old age by hard work. This 
saving propensity in the poor is a very weak thing 
nowadays. 

We may say that Barker's father was one of 
the idlers, who wasted his home and all posses- 
sions, and drifted into a delicate state of health. 
260 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CISSIE 

He was welcomed into the local workhouse, built 
shortly after the passing of the Poor Law Act 
of 1834. This Act, by destroying the sanctity 
of home, destroyed also all the natural thriftiness 
of our poor at a time when independence was 
as much a quality of our poor people as it is of 
the poor of France at the present time. Now 
we have our poor nearly all reduced to the Barker 
class, only a few are satisfied. 

We may note that our friend Bill Smith's 
hatred of paupers was largely due to Cissie's 
marriage to one of the purest type, and to the fact 
of constantly seeing Barker loitering about out- 
side the Blue Lion with other paupers who were 
always out of work, whom all respectable working 
men, particularly at this time, despised. We are 
sure it was not for want of general human kind- 
ness, as we have clearly seen by his acts. Indeed, 
Bill Smith had a narrow escape of being a pauper 
himself. We think again his hatred of the idle 
pauper class was influenced by a most objection- 
able man, whom we have had occasion to mention 
as an extreme radical, Mr. Spillman, who said, 
when spouting at the Blue Lion, that we bred 
the most prolific pauper race of any nation in 
the world. This Bill thought he saw evidence 
of now very clearly. Spillman went so far as 
to say, that he would let defective humanity die 
out, to leave means of keeping all the strong and 
261 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

provident alive, and all such stuff. He said that 
defective humanity preservation societies were a 
curse to the country. These arguments excited 
Bill Smith to such an extent, that he said he 
would if he could make all lazy paupers, in some 
way, non-reproductive, and thereby we should 
have a better race of men. We close the curtain ; 
these reflections are safl ! 

There is no doubt this hatred of lazy paupers 
was the worst point of Bill Smith's character. 
Our friend Mr. Thistletop often tried to convert 
him to more humanitarian ideas, by showing him 
that the truly poor are those who are poor in 
mind, body and pocket ; that the more objects 
we have of this class the more scope we have for 
our charity — our greatest virtue. Bill, who knew 
the class very well, could never see it. 



262 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER XVII 



WORN OUT 




HEN the doctor called again 
upon my aunt after our re- 
turn from the fairs, he ad- 
vised that she should be left 
at home for the following 
season. He said he was 
afraid that, with any further 
exposure to the necessities 
of our fair- life, she would 
not live through another 
fair -time. I think the old 
'un would have given way 
to this, if I had promised 
that my wife should help a 
little in our affairs at the 
show. My aunt said, how- 
ever, that she would rather 
try to go through another season. She was 
nearly worn out, and could not be of much more 
263 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

use in this world. She said her leaving home 
would give Cissie a chance of showing her worth 
under trying circumstances. Young married 
people could settle their affairs better by them- 
selves than with the interference of elders, and she 
hoped all would come out right. My wife and 
I determined my aunt should suffer as little as 
possible in remaining with us during fair-time. 
My Nellie said she was strong and could always 
help her. We both looked upon her now as a 
mother to us. The money-taking at the show, 
during which she kept on knitting almost incess- 
antly, was now my aunt's principal work, Nellie 
dusted the figures for her in the morning, and 
did part of the mending and washing, besides 
all her own work and the playing in her father's 
show. How she did it I do not know. 

For all our assistance, after a stormy day in 
the following July, my aunt broke down and 
could not crawl to the pay-box. This I had there- 
fore to take. The old 'un sent the doctor to her. 
She was .left at their lodgings in the town till 
two o'clock by herself, as my wife could not get 
'away. I asked him to let me slip out to see 
after her. She had had a mustard plaster on 
her chest, which she said had relieved her 
breathing very much, and she was taking the 
medicine which the doctor had sent. I found she 
had had some bread and milk for dinner which the 
264 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



WORN OUT 

landlady got for her, and which she said was 
very nice and that she was pleased to say she felt 
altogether better. 

I sat by her side a short time. She said, " It is 
nearly my last, Bill. I am now quite worn out 
and am glad to see the chance of rest. I hope I 
shall get back to our village to lie with my own 
dear mother, which I am sure my father would like 
me to do." 

I asked if she remembered her mother, and said 
that I did not know her. 

*' Oh yes, I remember her. I have not forgotten 
her a single day. 

" It is so curious, Bill, that when I now look in a 
glass I do not appear to see my own face but my 
mother's face, so that I suppose she was like me 
in the face when she died. I was then fifteen years 
old. I wish you had known her, she was so good. 
She always taught me to try to do right ; to use 
love always whether I should happen to be kindly 
treated or roughly treated in life ; and this, I am 
pleased to tell you, has been the only source of my 
happiness since her death. Some have returned 
my love like yourself. Bill ; some have not, but I 
have felt happy in having known some have cared 
for me. 

" I feel now I can ask you one thing, although I 
think I shall not die just yet; that is, that you 
will try to protect my baby boy. You know Joe is 
265 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

rough, and may not think of him ; but you and 
your dear wife always seem to think of what con- 
cerns me. Thank you both very much. I do not 
wish to say anything against Joe, although I know 
he was unkind to you. He is much better than 
many poor women's husbands. He does not drink, 
and he is not lazy naturally, although his fatness 
makes him inactive, so v/e have always had 
plenty to eat. He was fond of all the other chil- 
dren, although he does not take to baby. Try and 
humour him. Bill, as far as you can in remembrance 
of me. I am sure he cannot do without you. He 
will get you or your wife to write to our boy in 
Auistralia — he will not ask Cissie. Bob troubles 
my mind very much, as I see by his letters that he 
is inclined to be quarrelsome, I suppose because he 
is young and feels his strength ; but such people 
6ften come to grief through the spite of those they 
have domineered over. When you write to him, 
try to break him of fighting. You need not tell 
Joe all you write on this subject, as he is so proud 
of our boy's pluck. I may not have another chance, 
so I tell you these things that are on my mind. I 
hope to try to do my best till I die, when I am 
sure I shall be quite worn out." After a few minutes 
she said — 

" It is a curious thought, to be sure. I am passing 
out of this life. Bill,: but it is not without its pleasure. 
I do not think we see divine things clearly while a 
266 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



WORN OUT 

selfish thought remains in our life. If you were to 
look in the glass with me you would see the reflec- 
tion of my face, I know. I see, as I told you, 
only my mother's face. I speak to her ; she is 
silent. But when all is still and dark she comes to 
me without need bf reflection in the glass, and I 
may then speak to her. She replies in soft 
whispers that the night only knows. Last night 
she came to me. I said to her, * Lead me, dear 
mother, to my Saviour.' She replied, * All is well; 
you have been true.' I said, * I have prayed and 
tried to do my best' She replied, * My child, to 
try with God is the same as to do. We will be 
together soon. My spirit clasps you ! fear not ! ' 
This may have been a dream, but it is real to me, 
.and it softens all my pain, which I know must very 
soon pass away." 

She asked me to give her my hand that she 
might kiss it and bless me. I asked if I might kiss 
her lips. She replied, "Do, my boy; and thank 
you truly for all the consolation you have given 
me." I told her it was for me to give her thanks, 
as she had directed me, and had taught me all the 
good I kniew. She said, " I am pleased if I have 
done any good. I ktiew I could always speak to you 
kindly and be answered in the same spirit It has 
been a great consolation to me. Joe, God bless 
him ! could not listen to anything he thought to be 
sentimental" 

267 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

I saw the doctor. He said my aunt must remain 
in bed another day. The old 'un thought she 
might move on, or we must lose the two days' 
fair at Hackeley. I refused to do this. He swore 
a great deal about it, but had to give in to me. 
We rested the day and the night and travelled on 
to Parkstead Fair, which was next on our list, in the 
day-time when the sun was out. My wife took 
charge of my aunt's little baby boy and went on 
with the Robinson family. She would have stayed 
behind if she thought she could have helped my 
aunt, but I knew there was really a difficulty in 
filling up her place in Robinson's show, so I let her 
go. 

My aunt recovered a little next day, so as to be 
able to get up. I had a sharp talk with the old 'un. 
I told him a good bit of my aunt's illness was 
caused by his low swearing at her so much, which 
showed him to be a beastly coward, now she was 
so ill and had become so nervous ; that if he did 
not stop it, I should take her myself to her father's 
house to die, and that he and Duck might get on 
with the show as best they could, for I would have 
nothing more to do with him. I said I cared 
nothing whatever for him, but that I did for my 
aunt, which was the truth. 

This made him better, for his stoutness had 
made him inactive, and he depended all upon 
me ; beside which, I had now to help him restrain 
26S 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



WORN OUT 

Duck, who had become a thorn in both our 
sides. 

The weather in August was very mild, and my 
aunt appeared to be for a time a little better. She 
could sit up again and take money at the show, 
wrapped up in a thick shawl, and could do her 
knitting and sometimes a little cooking. 

The old ^un was a good bit away from the show, 
and sometimes left the show speech to me. He 
seemed to have become familiar with some of the 
doubtful women about the fairs, and with Mrs. 
Mackin in particular, who was asked in to dine 
with us. I lost all respect for him, and my wife 
would not speak to him at all after this. My aunt 
appeared to be resigned, and wore her constant 
smile. 

In October we were returning homewards. My 
aunt felt the chilly evenings very severely, as there 
was no fire in the bedrooms where they happened 
to lodge, and she told me she was afraid now she 
should not reach home alive. On the tenth of 
October we had a doctor, and he said she could 
not be moved ; but she insisted that she would. It 
would not be long before she was at home. We 
started next day. 

My aunt's more sudden illness made me and the 

old 'un, by compulsion, decide to go straight home, 

and not finish the season at the fairs, which lasted 

until Barnet pig fair, early in November. We 

2<59 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

were at Grayham, forty miles from our village. We 
had decided to travel the first night, as the horses 
had rested two days. We provided plenty of milk 
food for the boy, of which my aunt could partake, 
which she said she should like better than anything 
else. This she kept in an ox bladder by her side 
to keep it warm. Her bed was made up in the 
fore part of the van, and we made the old 'un a bed 
at the back, by packing some of our man-sticks 
outside. Our van was always heavy, and the old 
horse could only do twelve miles at most in one 
day or night, as there had to be frequent pulls up, 
so that our rate, taking the night through, would not 
much exceed two miles an hour. When the roads 
were heavy we hired a second horse for the van. 

A bitter easterly wind sprung up on the October 
evening mentioned, and at three o'clock in the 
morning there was a sleety snowstorm, and the 
ground was crisp and frosty. Joe went at every 
stoppage to see my aunt. She said she felt the 
cold, but she was thankful her cough had ceased 
to trouble her. I got some silk dresses out from 
the back of the van to give her more covering, but 
she said the weight was oppressive. At the open 
house where we stopped at three o'clock, Joe 
got her a glass of hot brandy and water. She 
said it was very kind, but she could not take it 
For acknowledgment she put the glass to her 
mouth. She was quite sensible, and although 
270 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



WORN OUT 

short of breath spOke quite clearly. The little boy 
was fast asleep. 

Before we left she asked Joe to take one pillow 
from under her head (she had two); that now 
her cough had left her, she would rather 
have her head lower. She asked him to lay it 
along between the boy and herself, for if she 
should die very soon it would be nicer for the 
baby not to lie against her body. She asked Joe 
to give her his hand that she might kiss it She 
said she hoped he thought that she had been 
a dutiful wife to him as long as her strength 
lasted. He said she had. She asked him to kiss 
her forehead, which he did, and then asked the 
blessings of God upon him, whom she should soon 
see. She asked him to be as gentle as he could 
with baby and with Cissie, although she was sorry 
to think Cissie had been undutiful to him ; to tell 
Bob she had blessed him in dying, and hoped he 
would try to make friends, which would do him 
more good than trying to be masterful. 

Joe was really cut up. He said he wished he 
had been kinder to her, but that he never got out 
of the rough ways he was brought up in. She 
replied she might possibly have been happier if he 
had, but that all was forgotten and forgiven. He 
had kept her, and been kind to his children. She 
only hoped now he would think kindly of her when 
she was gone for what she had tried to be to him 
271 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

all their married life. She asked when they would 
move on, for she longed to be at home. She then 
asked him to put a small shawl over her head as it 
felt cold. She bade him " good-bye " for fear she 




might not see him again while she was alive, and 
said, " God bless you ! " 

My aunt, I believe, was perfectly sensible to the 

moment of her death, which must have occurred 

very soon after Joe left her. It appeared that after 

he left, she tied the small shawl under her chin, 

272 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



WORN OUT 

threw some of the clothes that covered her over the 
boy, closed her eyes, laid down perfectly straight 
on her back with her arms flat by her side, as 
though she thought she would give as little trouble 
as possible to others in laying out after her death. 

When we stopped at the next open inn at four 
o'clock she was found to be dead. She appeared 
in death as though she was already laid out in her 
coffin. Baby was still asleep — felt quite warm, and 
gave a smile when we took him up. 

Fortunately for us, it was a large posting-town 
where we arrived at five o'clock in the morning. 
We had breakfast as early as possible at the inn. 
We got baby up, and the landlady kindly had 
him washed and fed. The poor little fellow took 
very little, and appeared to be very sick. We 
made inquiries for an undertaker, whose shop 
we found. We knocked him up. This was at 
six o'clock. We then made all arrangements, 
according to the undertaker's suggestions. He 
and his man brought a shell, such as undertakers 
always keep for emergencies. They lifted my 
aunt into the shell by the sheet she laid on. She 
was then taken off to the undertaker's shop, where 
she was given over to two hired women, who 
prepared her for her coffin. The undertaker found 
he had a rough elm coffin of my aunt's size ready 
made. He agreed to finish this with a covering 
of black baize, two rows of nails, handles, angel 
S 273 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

and flower for the lid, and a chased lead inscrip- 
tion plate in five hours' time. My aunt was put 
in a winding-sheet, and the pink glazed cambric 
ruffling round the inside of the coffin came down 
to this, so that it left only her face, still sweet 
in death, visible. The lid of the coffin was partly 
screwed down; We had it placed in the back 
of the van, and were ready to start for our village 
before noon. 

The old 'un left our tired horses at the inn and 
got two fresh ones to take the van and the cart on. 
A like change was made in ten miles, at the next 
posting-town. I got a black horse for the van 
for our last change. We arrived home just at 
midnight of the same day as we started with the 
coffin. It was a starlit, moonless night. The old 
'un took my berth in the cart, where he remained 
asleep. I walked along the narrow path leading 
into our village. Duck followed the van. Rough 
fellow as he was, he felt sad at the loss of my aunt, 
who was a friend to all. The van looked black 
and hearse-like in the faint starlight. Baby crying 
in the van seemed to be mourning for his lost 
mother. My tears fell in response to the touching 
solemnity of baby's funeral dirge. 

I had carried baby wrapped up in a shawl for a 

great part of the way on the road to keep him warm, 

as he was restless and got uncovered in the van. 

I could see he had a severe cold. I was very 

274 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



WORN OUT 

pleased to give him over to Cissie (Mrs. Barker), 
who burst into a flood of tears when I told her her 
mother was in her coffin. I felt thoroughly fagged 
out for want of sleep. She put baby as early 
as she could into a hot bath and sent for the 
doctor, as she was afraid he was very bad. Poor 
little dear, with every care, he died of pneumonia 
on the day that his dear mother v/as buried. 

Mr. Santon had had a new grave to bury his 
own wife in, that is my aunt's mother. This had 
a white grave rail, as is common in our part of the 
country. The only inmate of the grave was my 
aunt's mother, whose name was still readable with 
her age and time of death, twenty-five years before, 
upon it. The grave, after my aunt's funeral, was 
left covered only by boards and a sprinkle of 
earth ready to receive her last baby, who was 
afterwards closed in with her. 

The old 'un had the rail repainted at his own 
expense, and the names, ages, and dates of death 
of Mrs. Santon, my aunt, aged forty-one only, and 
her little son placed upon it. Words suggested by 
our good vicar were placed under baby's name : — 

" They rest in the Lord." 



275 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CHAPTER XVIII 



THE LAST CHAPTER 



UR show was kept 
going the year fol- 
lowing my aunt's 
death. I gained 
some respect for 
my uncle from the 
manner in which he 
appeared to be cut 
up. Throughout her 
illness I thought he 
was cruel and in- 
different to her. 
Now she was gone I could see clearly he repented, 
and lamented her loss. 

Cissie (Mrs. Barker) I also saw as a much more 
thoughtful and a better woman in many respects 
than I anticipated. She was very clean and a 
hard worker, of irritable temper, but with much 
general kindness to others, and of great fondness 
276 




Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE LAST CHAPTER 

for her worthless husband. My uncle was com- 
pelled to remain in the house with her as he could 
not settle his mind for any change, and he remem- 
bered his wife's last words to try and be kind to 
Cissie. I must say that, except in always sticking 
up for her husband, which vexed her father, Mrs. 
Barker tried to do all she could to please him. 

The old *un had left Barker in charge of the 
house when he went away to the fairs, with direc- 
tions, if he should have no work, to attend to the 
garden. He told him to plant some potatoes, 
parsnips, onions and cabbages for both families, 
for the winter; that, if he should have plenty of 
work, he might get a labourer to do this. When 
he returned he found the garden was left without 
being dug, and was full of weeds. Indeed, Barker 
had seen to nothing, nor done anything towards 
keeping his own home, except killing a few pigs for 
a little fry and chitterlings, which he brought home, 
and ringing a few pigs' noses for a Httle money, 
that he kept to himself for drink. From these 
evidences of his thorough laziness, the old 'un 
hated the very sight of him more than ever. 

When my uncle returned, Cissie insisted on her 
husband sharing the meals with him. She said 
her husband was always trying to get work, but he 
w;as unfortunate. This she may have thought was 
true. She said when he got in work that he would 
share the expenses. The old 'un said, " Never." 
277 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

She replied, " You are very hard with Ned. Indeed, 
you was hard with mother while she lived, and 
with me, and with everybody else." 

My uncle seemed to take all his affairs sullenly, 
with much swearing and grumbling for a month or 
so after his return home for the winter. Then, 
finding he could not get Barker to do the slightest 
thing for him that was of any trouble, although he 
had to keep him, he determined that he would 
compel him to work, through starvation, or return 
to his home, the workhouse, which he said, was 
the only place he had been trained for. He deter- 
mined, under any condition, that Barker and his 
daughter should leave his house. 

At this time my uncle looked dirty and miser- 
able, more from his indifference to his person than 
from neglect on the part of his daughter. 

The Barkers were unwilling to leave the house, 
and resisted. Indeed, they had no home to go to. 
He said they could go to the workhouse. He 
would not keep such a lazy fellow in his owp 
house ; it only encouraged him. 

The old 'un then made arrangements to have 
his meals at the village inn, and stopped all the 
supplies at home. This did not last a week. The 
first few days Mrs. Barker begged food for tempor- 
ary existence off her neighbours, who all asked why 
her husband did not work ? They could not spare 
from what they had earned to support a lazy 
278 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE LAST CHAPTER 

fellow. She looked white and thin when her 
father came home to bed on the Friday after 
supplies had been stopped from the Monday. She 
told him that she had had no food in her mouth that 
day, but she would soon die of starvation, and he 
would be pleased to get rid of her as he had done 
of her mother. This was too much for her father. 
Although he swore terribly at her in reply, he was 
very fond of her. He gave her a shilling to get 
some food that night, and agreed afterwards to 
allow her a shilling a day, for which she was to 
keep his house in order. He got Barker out of 
his sight by putting him and Cissie into a very 
small cottage, for which he paid a shilling a week 
rent. He gave them some very common bedding, 
an old table and a chair, with five shillings to buy 
cooking things, which, he said, was all he would 
do for them till he went to work. 

The old 'un kept to this arrangement, which 
appeared to be quite satisfactory to Barker, who 
was contented to hold a low torpid kind of exist- 
ence, which adapted itself to any circumstances, 
provided he could lead a lazy life. His stolid con- 
tentment had a marked effect upon my uncle. 

My uncle became now indifferent to everything, 
led a moping life, and indulged in too much food 
at his meals at the inn. He became very inactive and 
sotted a long time at one sitting, partly for the sake 
of chance company. I attended to all his cottage 
279 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

work, and did up our figures for the next season as 
well as I could, without the necessary new materials 
for which he parted with every penny grudgingly. 

Our doctor was a friend of the Mr. Santon who 
had educated my aunt and Cissie, and had them 
taught dressmaking, as before mentioned. He had 
known Cissie ever since he brought her into the 
world, and still took an interest in her. She always 
reminded him of her mother, who was loved by all, 
from having her mother's sweet face and winning 
• smile. He was very troubled that she had given 
herself away to a worthless husband, but the ap- 
pearance of her father troubled him more. He 
could see from her father's bloated, unwholesome 
appearance that he held a very uncertain life. He 
made up his mind, upon the first chance, he would 
talk to him about himself and his daughter. He 
met the old *un a few days later, and went up to him. 

The old 'un, seeing the doctor cross the road 
and come straight up to him, was a bit surprised, 
as he had never shown him any respect heretofore. 
The doctor bade him good-morning, and said he 
was pleased to meet him, as he thought he could 
be of service to him. After a short conversation 
about Mrs. Barker, he assured my uncle that if he 
did not lead a more active life, and take very simple 
food, he would soon have an attack of apoplexy, 
which might take him off very suddenly: He said 
that this was not his only object in speaking to him. 
280 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE LAST CHAPTER 

His .daughter had married a very worthless fellow, 
who did not care for the possession of anything 
beyond his present enjoyment ; that he hoped 
my uncle had made a will in such a manner that 
if his property should fall into the hands of his 
daughter her husband could not sell it — waste the 
money — and leave her starving. The old 'un said 
he had not made a will, or thought of this. He 
then advised him to go to a lawyer and make 
one at once, to save risk of the accident he men- 
tioned. The old 'un thanked him earnestly and 
promised he would do so, and was very pleased 
with this advice, for he was determined Barker 
should have nothing, if possible, from him, except 
through his daughter, and at her discretion. 

The old 'un did not know anything about a will, 
and felt very suspicious of lawyers ; he therefore 
got me and my wife to go with him, as he said 
we could be witnesses of what he did, thinking, 
evidently, that the will would be made there and 
then, and the whole matter finished at one visit. 
It was really made within three days* timfe, as the 
lawyer had a hint from the doctor of the uncer- 
tainty of the old 'un's life. 

After an explanation, by myself, of the object of 
our visit, the lawyer asked my uncle how he wished 
his property to be disposed of, to which he replied — 

" Half Bob, half Cis. — weekly. Something for Bill 

to look after it That B Barker not to touch it." 

281 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

The lawyer said he might leave his property in 
trust to mj^self, who might act as his executor, so 
that hb daughter could only have the money as it 
became due to her from income. In this manner 
it could be arranged so that she could not deal 
with it in any way. In reply to a question, the 
old 'un said his cottages brought him in twenty- 
five shillings a week, without his own, which he 
lived in, worth another five shillings or more. The 
lawyer told him he might leave with safety about 
twenty shillings a week out of this to his son and 
daughter. The other ten shillings would about 
pay repairs, vacancies, taxes and insurance, and 
leave his executor and trustee a little for his trouble. 
He said, " Nine each enough — the rest for Bill." 

This, the lawyer thought, was very fair. The will 
was settled and signed in due course, my uncle put- 
ing his mark, as he could not write his name. Despite 
his roughness, I could always see my uncle was at 
heart an honest man. 

My uncle said he would not make any arrange- 
ment about the show, as he intended to give it 
to me by my paying something a year to him while 
he lived. The lawyer offered to draw up a paper 
to this effect, but he said he should see how things 
went on one more season before he settled this. 

When we commenced the next season, Cissie 
and her husband went back to the old 'un's 
cottage, as he said it was of no use paying extra 
282 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE LAST CHAPTER 

rent. A respectable tenant in one of the cottages 
was given the right to receive rent from the other 
cottages, from which he had to hand over seven 
shillings a week only to his daughter, and retain the 
balance till he returned. He kept Cissie*s income 
low, in the hope of driving her husband to work. 

Our show had been very much neglected; no 
new figures for three years, nor any alterations 
the last year. I had nothing new to tout 
about. We changed the name of one murderer, 
but the last murder . had not been a thrilling 
one, so this did not draw. The old *un again 
spent much of his time with the loose characters 
about the fairs. He had often to be searched for 
to give the speech inside. I had this often to 
take myself now, which lost time in touting. 

Seeing the old *un did not stick to his work, 
Duck was also often lost from the drum and 
whistles. This made the old un' mad with him. 
Duck refused to help pack and brush up the 
figures. He made an excuse that the old 'un 
swore so much it made him nervous. Duck was 
the old 'un's pupil in swearing, and I think he 
was as good at it as his master. He pretended, 
in his chaff, that it vexed him, so that he could 
not be alone with him in the tent. The old 'un 
said it could not hurt him. Duck said, " I feel 
just like that poor old genelman who come five 
miles to see the fair, who overshot the catch of his 
283 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

umbereller when a shower come on, as he entered 
the fair. After this, he 'ad to keep his umbereller 
up when the sun was shinin', and the lads chaffin', 
thinkin' he was off his 'ead. This shows what 
a small thing may upset a narvous man." Duck's 
chaff upset the old 'un more than anything else, 
but he had no pluck left to resist it 

Duck went off to play extra fiddle at the 
dancing-booth, very often as early as nine in the 
evening, which left our later lots of visitors very 
thin for want of drumming up. He also indulged 
more in drink, and came late in the mornings, so 
that I had often to attend to the horses myself. 
I tried to get the old 'un to give him his discharge, 
but he said, as he should only go through this 
season himself, he would put up with him till 
the last. 

It was in the month of July, and at the same time 
of the year my aunt was taken so seriously ill, that 
a letter came from Australia. It was sent to our 
village, but it had been forwarded on, and reached 
us a week after its first delivery. It announced 
the death of Bob, the old 'un's only son. When 
I commenced to read it to him, he turned 
quite white. I thought he was going to faint 
or die, but he recovered in ten minutes or so, 
and told me to go on with it. It appeared 
by the letter that when his son was dying, he 
asked a friend at the diggings to write home for 
284 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE LAST CHAPTER 

him, and say how all things had happened. He 
had no time himself to dictate a letter. 

The letter ran on that^~" Bully Smith as he 
was known, had been a very quarrelsome fellow. 
He was always in fights with some of the diggers. 
As he was always victor, they determined in 
some way to get him a good thrashing. A prize- 
fighter, known as ' Sparkie/ was on a visit near. 
The diggers made up their minds that they 
would subscribe twenty pounds among them to 
get him to come over and settle Bully Smith. 
This did not mean to kill him, but to maim him 
in some way, that he might become less offensive. 
It was decided that the prize-fighter should not 
come in his true character, until he knew some- 
thing of Bully Smith's strength. When Sparkie 
came up to the diggings, he was watched up to 
Bully's patch, where he was digging. Sparkie, 
when he arrived, took up a spade that was standing 
on the bank, and appeared to be examining it. 
Bully called out to him with an oath to put it 
down, or he would come up and knock his head 
off. He told him to be quiet, that he should not 
hurt his spade by looking at it. With this Bully 
climbed out of the hole, and gave him a sharp 
cuff on the side of the head. The prize-fighter, 
being on his guard, knocked him straight down. 
Bully said, if that was his game he had better strip 
and fight it out. He found Bully a much more 
285 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

powerful man than he expected. During the 
second round he was fighting his best. He struck 
Bully under the ear, with which he fell. He only 
said the few words mentioned to the writer before 
he died. The witnesses to Bully's previous char- 
acter entirely cleared the prize-fighter from any 
blame before the district magistrate, who knew 
him otherwise very well." 

I am sure it was the blow being given under 
the ear that affected the old 'un so much, as 
he remembered how nearly he had killed me in 
the same manner. He told me I might have 
the show now. He was quite done for. I sug- 
gested he had better keep it through the season, 
which he finally decided to do, but in a very 
lackless spirit. He was now troubled about his 
will, and said he must alter it as soon as he 
could get to his lawyer. He went into a shop 
and bought a bit of crape, which my wife sewed 
upon the arm of his coat. The piece he had for 
his wife had been torn off long ago. 

We were drawing near the end of the fair-season. 
The old 'un said he would return home just as 
early as he did last year, missing Barnet pig fair. 
I could see he was awfully melancholy and ap- 
peared to care for nothing. Duck tormented him 
now more than ever. 

My uncle giving out to the show-folk that he 
was about to retire, a supper was arranged among 
286 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE LAST CHAPTER 

them, which was to come oflF before he left them, 
as was common on such occasions. The supper 
was to be at nine o'clock on the last Saturday that 
the old 'un would be at the fairs. It was on an 
off-fair day. 

Duck, early in the week, when not over sober, 
had upset one of our man figures. The old 'un, 
who was not attending to his business as he ought 
to have been at the time, thought Duck had done 
it purposely, from being out of temper at the old 
'un refusing to lend him the drum. The figure 
had its nose broken, and had to be set out of the 
show. On this Saturday at pay-time, the old 
'un determined to stop Duck ten and sixpence, 
half his week's pay, for the damage he had done, 
from his wages. 

Duck said, " It is a swindle ; you can put a new 
nose on for a shillin'. If you stop any money 
you will find it all the worse for you." 

" I shall have to buy a new head," the old *un 
replied. 

" I never see no new 'eads, but only old 'uns 
mended up." This was true of late. 

The old *un having some fear of Duck, tried to 
argue the point with him, but would not give way 
in the payment. Duck persisted it was a swindle. 
He told him — 

"You are like the watchmaker at Sandwick. 
He tells me, when I take my ticker to him 
287 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

to clean up once a year, *I must charge you ten 
bob, as it costs me half a crown for oil, 'cos it gets 
so rusty through using it in the stable, and just 
as much for a brush to clean out the chaff, which 
settles inside through the case not fittinV and a 
lot of other things just as likely. I don't expect 
such swindles of my old master, who knows what 
a good servant I am." This was very civil for 
Duck, but the old 'un would not give way. Duck 
said he would be sorry for it before to-morrow 
morning. Further, there was a hint floating about 
that Duck might be invited to the last supper, as 
he was a very old servant, and could sing a good 
comic song. This invitation the old 'un had half 
promised, but now decided not to give him. He 
thought he should not require Duck's services 
much longer, and felt indifferent to his temper. 
Duck was also vexed at having to leave the fairs so 
early in the season, and thought he could do better 
for himself by a change than remaining with the old 
'un. Under these conditions, our affairs were in 
the highest state of tension. I feared Duck, be- 
cause I knew his savage temper. I was very 
particular to see that all our stock was securely 
packed in the van, and I looked round to place 
everything in order before I went into the Crown 
to supper at nine o'clock. 

The supper was just put on the table, when 
there was a loud continued cry of fire outside the 
288 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE LAST CHAPTER 

inn. The landlord came in and said it was in the 
fair. We all rushed out. I soon found that it 
was our van on fire, which contained all our wax- 
works. It blazed up like a corn stack, and lit 
up the whole town. It was perfectly useless to 
attempt to put it out. All we could possibly do 




was to get the other vans away and save the 
surrounding property. 

The old *un knew perfectly well it was Duck 
who had set the van on fire. I thought we might 
prove it, as I had found a truss of straw had gone 
out of the stable near, where our horses were 
put up, which may have been used to light it. 
T 289 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

The ashes of the straw were found under the van 
to windward. I told the old 'un there was no 
doubt that we could get Duck punished for it. 
My uncle appeared to be quite stupid and dis- 
heartened with his affairs. He said he would take 
no more trouble about the fire^ It would cost a 
lot of money and time to bring Duck to justice, 
and he felt quite done up. As so many other 
imprudent men say — he said, luck was all against 
him. 

When he was a young man he made his own 
luck by firmness and industry, now he was much 
older he lost it by weakness and idleness. 

After the fire we started homeward at once. 
Our cart being overloaded, we left our tent, which 
was very old and much patched, with Robinson 
to sell for us, which he offered to do. We never 
saw any money for it afterwards. We took ©ur 
cart with the horses in tandem, riding or walking by 
the side home to the village, resting at the inns two 
nights on the road — the same road we had travelled 
under even more solemn circumstances just a year 
before with my late poor dear aunt. My wife came 
home as early as she could with the Robinson 
family. 

When we arrived at home the will was altered 

by the lawyer, so as to allow Mrs. Barker fourteen 

shillings a week from the property, and all the 

rest to me as his executor and trustee. The 

290 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE LAST CHAPTER 

horses and cart were sold. During the winter my 
uncle, who was miserable and uncared for, brooded 
and fretted over the loss of his wife and son and 
his waxworks to which he had devoted a great 
part of his life. It appeared to me to be his only 
consolation to talk to me about his wife and son, 
with so much repentance for his mistakes and 
rough ways, that he proved himself to me to 
be a better man at heart than I once thought he 
was. He still ate and sotted too much. My 
wife and I saw he was failing fast. He died 
of apoplexy early in March, in his fifty- fifth 
year. 

My late aunf s father, Santon, would not allow 
my uncle to be buried in his grave where my 
aunt was laid, as he said Joe Smith was a brute. 
I had therefore to buy a new grave in our own 
churchyard for him. 

Robinson was taken too ill to go on with his 
show, and Mrs. Robinson had become more gouty, 
so that she could not perform, and could only do 
her domestic work with difficulty. The show 
was sold to Mr. Hackworth and paid for, partly 
out of his savings (he was a very thrifty man), 
partly from money his friends lent him, and partly 
by instalments, which poor Robinson did not live 
to receive in full. 

After this I settled down with my wife to look 
after the cottages, and do any fencing or other 
291 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

rough work I could get We did not again enter 
public life, as my wife did not see how she 
could do it and attend to our babies. Further, 
I do not think she had a high opinion of my 
dramatic powers to help her in the profession. 
She did once suggest that I might take the 
position of scene-shifter and carpenters' odd man, 
but I found this berth was poorly paid and not 
easy to get at a provincial theatre, so we gave 
up the idea. 

At the present time Mrs. Barker and her 
husband appear to be quite happy together. He 
hangs about the Blue Lion of a day, and sots 
a little in the evening. Mrs. Barker works hard 
and keeps him, the house, and the pretty, healthy 
children, clean and quite respectable-looking. I 
avoid him as much as I can, as I do not like him, 
and insist on paying the weekly stipend to Mrs. 
Barker personally. 

The cottage garden is kept in perfect order by 
Mrs. Barker's own hands, and is now full of flowers. 
Our ever-kind churchwarden and special guardian, 
Mr. Thistletop, whose great delight is kindly look- 
ing after the interests of beggars and paupers, and 
who has also just a slight taste for criminals, says, 
" It is a pretty sight to see this happy family 
so spotlessly clean, seated on a Sunday evening 
in front of their cottage, enjoying in their simple 
way all the pleasures of life." He feels particu- 
292 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



THE LAST CHAPTER 

larly proud of this, as he knows Barker to be 
ancestrally a thorough-bred pauper. He advises, 
" That all that is now necessary for the elevation of 
this class, if it should be thought by any to be 
desirable, is that ladies of good personal appear- 
ance, like Mrs. Barker, with small independencies, 
should offer to marry them. He could insure 
acceptance in many cases, and it would greatly 
relieve the rates of our overburdened parish for 
one generation at least. 

Duck blows the whistles for Mr. Hackworth, 
with whom he appears to get on very well, just 
as he did with my aunt. A very rough, ill- 
tempered fellow he is, who can be led like a baby 
by gentleness, but can never be driven along by 
violence. 

Miss Perkins has a constant engagement in the 
Dramatic Show. 

Baggs has married Sal Grimes, but, as I hear, 
in this case marriage is a failure. They are not 
really happy together. 

Having now finished my work with Mr. 
Saunders, I return whence I started, again spend- 
ing some evenings at the Blue Lion, listening 
still to my friend Spillman and old Sowerby 
quarrelling over politics. I have dropped my 
smock-frock, as the old woman says authors do 
not wear them (nothing to do with the literary 
293 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



JOE SMITH AND HIS WAXWORKS 

ninepences). I am again asked to tell tales of 
the old 'un's waxworks. There are plenty of tit- 
bits left, which were too natural to our life 
for Mr. Saunders to care to print them. I wait 
now till Mr. Pitcher has finished the pictures, 
which I am telling him all about, and to hear that 
the book is printed, when I shall be pleased to 
know someone has bought a copy of it, besides 
the one already booked for Mrs. Pratington. 



FINIS 



PRINTED HY 
MORRISON AND GIBB LIMITED, EDINBURGH 

294 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



NEW VAGABOND LIBRARY. 

EDITED BY 

G. B. BURG IN. 

WRITTEN BY 

"VAGABONDS." 

Price 28. doth; U. 6d. paper. 



VOLUME I. 



QASCOIQNE'S ** GHOST/' 

By G. B. BuRGiN. [J^eady October i. 

VOLUME II. 

THE CHEST OF OPIUM. 

By C. W. Mason. \Ready November 2. 

VOLUME III. 

HIS DAUGHTER. 

By W. L. Alden. {Ready December i. 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



READY IN SEPTEMBER. 
Price 6s. 

GUP; or, Untold Stories of the Indian Mutiny. 

By an Indian Chaplain. 

Price 3J. 6d, 

UNKNOWN LONDON. 

By A. T. Camden Pratt. 

READY IN OCTOBER. 
Price ys, 6d. net. 

BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA: Its History 
from the Beginning. 

With Illustrations and Maps. By C. Colin Campbell. 
Price IS. 

PHIL MAY'S ANNUAL FOR 1896. 

With Forty Illustrations by the Author ; and Tales by 
Gilbert Parker, L. Zangwill, G. B. Burgin, W. L. 
Alden, Louis Becke, and others. 

Price is, fie/. 

FRENCH HOMONYMS, Etc. 

By H. DE Larmoyer, Professor of French at the Crystal 
Palace. 

liONDON: 
NEVILLE BEEMAN LIMITED, 6 Bell BoUdings, E.C. 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 



#/ 



Digitized by VjOOQiC 






Digitized by VjOOQIC 









■^^ 




Digitized by VjOOQ IC